Breast Cancer Awareness: The Critical Knowledge Every Black Woman Should Have
As we find ourselves in the heart of October, the world is painted pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Today, I share a topic deeply personal to me. On March 20, 2009, I lost my Auntie Azalee to breast cancer. My Aunt was a very confident woman, who had a sense of style, humor, and spunk. She spoke her mind and loved the Lord. And, Chile, she could sing!! My Auntie was a Creative, just like us. A self-taught seamstress, who could make anything - from prom dresses to winter coats. My Auntie taught me a lot about life and often shared her life stories as examples of what to do or what not to do. Just remembering the heavy weight of her loss reminds me of the urgent need for breast cancer awareness and education, especially among Black women.
Black Women and Breast Cancer: The Untold Risks
It's a sobering fact: Black women are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer at younger ages, and often, the diagnosis is of more aggressive forms of the disease. Coupled with this is the troubling statistic that Black women face a higher mortality rate from breast cancer than their white counterparts. According to the American Cancer Society, "Black women still have a 4% lower incidence rate of breast cancer than White women but a 40% higher breast cancer death rate."
The reasons for these disparities are complex, involving a mix of genetic, environmental, and socio-economic factors. However, one thing is clear: awareness, early detection, and adequate healthcare can change the narrative.
Prevention is Power
Below are steps every woman can take to reduce her risk:
1. Regular Self-Exams: Know your body. Regular self-exams help in early detection. Familiarize yourself with how your breasts and armpits feel so you can notice any changes. If you feel something, say something.
2. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle:A balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco can significantly reduce your risk.
3. Limit Alcohol Intake: The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer.
Mammograms: Questions to Ask Your Doctor
A mammogram can often detect a problem before there are any outward physical signs. Here are some essential questions to ask your healthcare provider:
- At what age should I start having mammograms?
- How often should I have one?
- Are there different types of mammograms? Which one is right for me?
- What do the results mean? How will I be informed?
Read the latest information on National Institution of Health: National Cancer Institute's website:
The Power of an Accountability Buddy
The journey of health is one best traveled with company. Having an accountability buddy can be your support system – someone who reminds you of screenings, accompanies you to appointments, or simply listens when you need to talk. This solidarity ensures that neither of you neglect regular checks and self-exams. Please consider the Baring My Soul Creatives, Private Facebook Group, as your sisters, who want to see you thrive and succeed. We must take better care of ourselves so we can create the things we love.
Remember: our strength lies in unity, awareness, and action. By arming ourselves with knowledge and fostering a community of support, we can rewrite the narrative for Black women and breast cancer. Black Women are strong, but we are not invincible. If we are tired, we need to rest. If we are in pain, we need to see a doctor. And most importantly, we must advocate for ourselves!
This month and always, let's remind each other of our value and our power. "We are planting our seeds and growing together." Every step, every shared story, every piece of knowledge passed on is a step closer to a world free from the shadow of breast cancer.
Stay informed, stay united, and as always, "Do what makes you happy; Do what brings you joy; and Do what keeps you grounded."
With all my admiration,