After watching her sister go through early-stage breast cancer, Eva Longoria knew that she wanted to do something to help — not just within her own family, but for everyone diagnosed with the condition.
“While thankfully, she is in remission today, I know the statistics, and there is a risk that it could come back and become metastatic,” the actor tells SheKnows.
In short, metastatic breast cancer (also referred to as stage IV) is breast cancer that has spread to another part of the body — including the liver, brain, bones or lungs — according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
And though certainly well-intentioned, Breast Cancer Awareness Month tends to focus on campaigns about prevention and survival. Longoria points out that while that’s great, it also doesn’t necessarily include people living with metastatic breast cancer, which is incurable.
“In my conversations with women living with this disease, they’ve shared that they too often feel others don’t understand what they’re facing,” she explains. “Many of them say it’s difficult for others to grasp that their disease is incurable, and some even get comments from friends and family that they ‘don’t look sick.’”
When a loved one receives a diagnosis like metastatic breast cancer, it’s natural to want to help, but it can be difficult to know what to do. Longoria says a good place to start is with your support.
“Any person who has to go through any disease needs the support of their friends and family, and that can come in different ways,” she says. “The best advice I can give to caregivers is to listen and love. No matter what your friend or family member is going through, just be there for them.”
Longoria has also been doing another type of caregiving lately. In June, she gave birth to her first child, a son named Santiago Enrique Bastón. And like many other new parents, she’s adjusting to life taking care of a tiny human.
“I’m experiencing firsthand how challenging it can be to balance being a new mom while also juggling work and all of the other things that life brings,” she explains. “I can’t imagine also facing a life-threatening disease like metastatic breast cancer. For me, it reiterates why it’s so important that we continue to support people living with metastatic breast cancer.”
What Longoria also wants people to understand about metastatic breast cancer is that it can affect anyone of any gender, race or age, and while there have been a lot of advancements in treatment, there is currently no cure for metastatic breast cancer.
“This community is fighting like hell for more research to extend the lives of people diagnosed with this disease,” she says. “We should all do what we can to support them.”
To help find a cure for metastatic breast cancer, Longoria suggests posting a selfie or Boomerang tagged #KissThis4MBC so Novartis will donate $15 toward research on the condition. She says that in 2017, this campaign raised more than $200,000 to support metastatic breast cancer research.
“The reality is that this disease continues to take the lives of too many mothers, sisters, brothers, friends and loved ones,” Longoria notes, “so I want to do what I can to raise visibility and research funding for people living with this disease.”