A diagnosis of central nervous system (CNS) metastasis of the brain, or the linings of the brain and spinal cord known as leptomeningeal disease (LMD), has a worse prognosis and lower overall survival compared to patients with metastases in other organs. Incidence of brain metastasis is expected to increase, and with a disproportionate treatment response and debilitating side effects from the limited treatment options available, a patient-led initiative to address the lack of research in breast cancer brain metastasis (BCBM) and LMD is urgently needed.
The Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis Initiative (The Marina Kaplan Project) launched in June 2020 as an official project of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance which includes 32 nonprofits, 14 industry partners, and 30 individual patient advocates. The vision of the Alliance to improve the lives of those living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) closely aligns with the goals of the Marina Project to address the unmet needs of breast cancer patients living with CNS metastasis. The overarching goal of the Marina Project is to accelerate evidence-based BCBM- and LMD-specific research through increased funding and by influencing key stakeholders.
For more information, contact project lead, Christine Hodgdon.
Marina Pomare Kaplan, PhD
In memoriam, 1962-2020
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance’s Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis (BCBM) Initiative is named in memory of Marina Kaplan, who lived with metastatic triple negative breast cancer for 6 years until her passing in January 2020. Diagnosed stage 2 in 2011, she progressed to stage 4 (metastatic) in December 2013. Marina underwent 14 lines of treatment for MBC (including 7 clinical trials) as well as proton therapy, and surgical and interventional radiology procedures. She had a happy and fulfilling career in population health/applied epidemiology and after retiring due to her diagnosis, became fully involved in advocacy. Marina was a patient advocate volunteer with Living Beyond Breast Cancer, Metavivor, the MBC Alliance, and Komen Advocates in Science. Her goal as a patient advocate was to support research for the treatment of MBC, improve access to clinical trials, and ensure high quality oncology healthcare for all patients with MBC. Any person living with cancer who was fortunate enough to cross paths with Marina would attest that her contributions towards that goal were immense.