(BPT) - Mary Gooze remembers the day her metastatic breast cancer journey began. “It was a day I’ll never forget,” says Gooze, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. “Almost two years after my last radiation treatment for early-stage breast cancer, following a routine checkup, I received the call from my doctor that I had been dreading, a call I’d hoped I’d never ever get.”

Mary learned that her breast cancer had metastasized by spreading to the bones in her hip. “Now my real fight had begun. I thought I had a terminal diagnosis.”

A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC), cancer that has spread to other areas of the body and is the most advanced stage, can come as a shock for many women, and learning they will live with cancer for the rest of their lives often raises more questions than answers. Because there is so much information available about early stage breast cancer and prevention, it may be difficult to understand what information also applies to metastatic breast cancer.

For the approximately 175,000 US women currently living with metastatic breast cancer, these educational resources are critically important. Educating oneself about this stage of breast cancer and potential treatment options and learning to be their own advocate can help those living with MBC to better communicate needs to others and actively manage the disease.

Mary found that her diagnosis was both emotionally challenging and physically draining. “So I decided to focus my days doing something that I loved,” she said. “I love swimming, and so I decided I was going to swim across as many lakes as possible to bring awareness and funding to metastatic breast cancer – a poorly funded and all but forgotten branch of this disease.” Mary’s efforts have helped to raise more than $35,000 for the American Cancer Society and METAvivor, a charitable organization dedicated to the specific fight of those living with stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

Because those living with metastatic breast cancer often face challenges distinct from those living with earlier stage disease, it is difficult to find information that is specific to their unique journey with MBC. This is why AstraZeneca has launched Beyond Pink: Sharing Our Metastatic Breast Cancer Story, a new campaign to provide educational resources and tools for women like Mary to help them manage their MBC journey.

To learn more about MBC and how to Go Beyond Pink, visit www.lifebeyondpink.com.

3156903 Last Updated 10/15