Pink ribbons are all around us in October and April announcing the seasons of Breast Cancer “awareness” throughout the country. Hundreds of millions of dollars are raised nationally for Breast Cancer, but a very small portion of this money is being allocated for Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC). And while there is plenty of giving going on, there are very few advocates and organizations for MBC. One of our local outspoken advocates is Kelli Parker of Bella Vista, Arkansas. She was diagnosed at 26 with stage 1 breast cancer and metastasized to stage 4 by the age of 33. She did everything the early detection/awareness campaigns said she was supposed to do—double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, hysterectomy, hormonal therapy, and more. Kelli realized that the current awareness and early detection approach is not working and is fighting for Metastatic Breast Cancer patients around the country and world.
One of the organizations she supports is METAvivor, a non-profit run primarily by women with MBC, which uses 100% of donations for research. 100%–this is unheard of in the non-profit sector. Imagine donating money to an organization that will maximize every dollar toward its goal. Knowing that the only key to making MBC a controllable chronic illness instead of a terminal one is more research, Kelli decided to throw her support to METAvivor.
In 2016 she came up with The First Annual Northwest Arkansas METSquerade idea as a way for the local community to specifically support the individuals with the only breast cancer that kills. She joined forces with another Northwest Arkansas woman with MBC, Lisa Quinn, to help make the Metsquerade happen. Lisa, age 37, was diagnosed with MBC in July 2015. She had no previous history with breast cancer. The idea behind the Metsquerade is to provide METAvivor with additional money to help research MBC, raise awareness to MBC, and to acknowledge the women and men living with metastatic breast cancer.