Doctors first said Barbara Bragato had a milk blockage, then diagnosed metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Now Barbara spreads the word about MBC in Italy.
Like so many others, Barbara Bragato always thought breast cancer was a problem other women faced, but not her. Just one year after the birth of her second son, a sonographer stopped midway through an exam. He told Barbara she probably had a milk blockage and that she should return again after she finished nursing.
A few months later, Barbara repeated the exam. It was then that doctors informed her that she had metastatic breast cancer (MBC), the most advanced stage of breast cancer, which occurs when the cancer spreads beyond the breast to other parts of the body. "You always think it’s somebody else’s disease," she said.
Barbara tells her story of living with MBC
Barbara went online in search of information, a community, and especially support, but found practically nothing about MBC in Italian. "Thousands of people were participating in breast cancer forums, but there was nothing available for MBC patients," she said. When she talked with early breast cancer patients about the lack of support for those with MBC, they said, "We don’t want to hear or even think about MBC or metastasis."
Barbara decided to start her own Facebook page for MBC, and roughly 460 Italian women now take part. She was also recruited with four other women by a popular women’s magazine to blog about MBC on its website. Blog by blog, Barbara and other patient-writers are lifting the veil on MBC. Barbara’s mission? She wants to help her fellow MBC patients avoid isolation and give them a place to go where they can discuss their matters, including living with a disease that is "never-ending".
Building on the success of the blog, the authors recently met in person in Milan to "out" MBC. In mid-May, they held a "bloggers café," and a room full of people shared stories, listened to music, and enjoyed being together.
Barbara’s advice to others: Live your life every day as "normally" as possible by focusing on family, friends, and basics, and do your best to avoid the temptation of staying home and dwelling on the situation.
Barbara said, "Don’t add days to your life, but more life in your days!"