Mira Sorvino frequently lends her voice to causes that help other people, whether it's serving as an U.N. goodwill ambassador to combat human trafficking or speaking out on behalf of people who have experienced sexual violence via the #MeToo movement. In addition, the Academy Award-winning actor has also teamed up with #MoreForMBC: A campaign to raise awareness and funding for metastatic breast cancer research.
Sorvino has lost two of her best friends to the disease, including Champagne Joy — a well-known MBC activist and creator of #Cancerland, a peer-to-peer support group for people with the terminal condition.
"She introduced me to all the issues and the fight that had been taken up by this community to try and bring more attention and more funding to research to find a cure to metastatic breast cancer, because it is the only kind of breast cancer that kills you," Sorvino tells SheKnows.
In short, metastatic breast cancer (also referred to as stage 4) 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. The NBCF also notes that nearly 30 percent of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will develop metastatic disease.
And despite general decreases in cancer mortality rates in the U.S., the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network reports that the number of MBC deaths in America has hovered around 40,000 per year since 2000.
“All the focus on [breast cancer] early detection and prevention, it’s good, but it hasn’t actually addressed the death caused by this terrible, terrible disease," Sorvino says. "Only 7 percent of research dollars go towards research to find a cure for metastatic breast cancer, which is crazy. I mean, that’s just nuts."
This is why Sorvino decided to partner with Lily's Thriver Movement and #MoreForMBC campaign: to help close the gap in awareness and funding for research for this type of breast cancer.
"We want more awareness. We want more action. We want more national focus on finding a cure for this horrendously ugly disease," she explains. "Breast cancer is almost marketed as a pretty disease — like there’s something kind of cute about some of the advertisements this month, something light, something almost frivolous, and we’re saying it’s something ugly. It’s a horrible killer of women and 113 people die every day due to this disease, and two of them are some of my best friends in the entire world."
Sorvino says that her work spreading awareness of MBC does have ties to the current #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
"I do see everything as sort of interconnected," she explains. "I feel like this is the year of the awakening of women’s consciousness and awareness and society realizing that we as a gender have been underserved by our society [and] by our country. And I think that this extends into the health care sphere, that this horrendous disease that is so deadly and so prevalent and so ongoing has really not gotten the attention it needs, and we’re not going to take it quietly anymore. We’re going to really ramp up our response to it until we find a cure for this killer of women."
As another part of the #MoreForMBC campaign, fitness expert and yoga instructor Anna Kaiser developed the "Thriver" yoga pose and flow specifically for the MBC community to meet patients’ unique health challenges. Since MBC is incurable, people living with the condition can feel left out of breast cancer conversations centering on survivors because they know they will eventually die of the disease. Instead, the word "thriver" is used for both the MBC community, as well as Kaiser's new yoga pose.
"We want to help make their life more comfortable and as fulfilling as possible for the time that they're here," Kaiser tells SheKnows.
If you'd like to help, Lilly will donate $100 (up to $225,000) for every social media post a person shares of themselves or someone else doing the Thriver yoga pose using the hashtag #MoreForMBC.