BY PATRICIA COEFIELD, GUEST WRITER TO THE TIMES
ORLANDO – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month which means the pink explosion is everywhere and The Orlando Chapter of Sisters Network® Inc. wants everyone to be well informed about the importance of early detection. According to the National Cancer Institute, about one in eight women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.
The good news though, is that most women survive breast cancer if it is found and treated early.
However, African American women face both disproportionate exposure to breast carcinogens and the highest risk of serious health impacts from breast cancer disease.
As stated by – Dr. Kimberley Lee with Breast Oncology Program, we know that Black women are more likely to be undertreated or mistreated and less likely to get the drugs or surgery that they need to treat breast cancer.”
FACTS: As reported by the CDC and the American Cancer Society.
Globally: Breast cancer affects more women than any other type of cancer and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women.
In the US: Breast cancer has the highest mortality rate of any cancer in women between the ages of 20 and 59.
African American women have a 31% breast cancer mortality rate – the highest of any U.S. racial or ethnic group.
Among women younger than 45, breast cancer incidence is higher among African American women than white women.
Younger women in general, and younger African American women in particular, are more likely to present with the triple negative subtype of the disease, a subtype that is both more aggressive and associated with a higher mortality.
Over the past 20 years, despite the universal drop-in mortality rates, we have seen a rise in the incidence of breast cancer in African American women. In particular, disparities between mortality rates for white and Black women have grown significantly. The mortality rate for Black women diagnosed with breast cancer is 42% higher than the comparable rate for white women. Triple negative breast cancer is diagnosed more often in American women of African descent than in those of European descent in the United States.
So, what do we do about the disparity of African-American women breast cancer incidence of exposure, risks and death? We Educate. We bring about awareness. We teach. We lead by example.
Nelson Mandela once said that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The Orlando Chapter of Sisters Network® Inc., believe this statement to be true because Breast Cancer Awareness and early detection is vitally important in the treatment and survivorship of Breast Cancer. As a proponent of community outreach, we work closely with our medical and community partners to educate and promote “Breast Health Matters.”
For us, it all began 1994 when Sisters Network Inc. was founded by Karen Eubanks Jackson in Houston, Texas. Sisters Network® Inc. is the leading voice and only national African American survivorship organization in the United States. Our Orlando Chapter was chartered by then President, Sherlean Lee in 2005. We are a 501(c)3 organization. In our local chapter, we have women in our organization who are 20–30-year survivors and women who have been newly diagnosed with cancer and those in between. We meet the 3rd Saturday of every month at 2pm at Orlando Health Hospital in partnership with the Orlando Health Cancer Institute.
The Orlando Chapter of Sisters Network® is devoted to bringing breast cancer awareness to the African-American community of Central Florida. We are committed to fight breast cancer through education and by advocating annual mammograms and monthly self-breast examination. We diligently distribute breast health pamphlets, share our stories, encourage and empower women in Orlando and surrounding areas to take control of their health. Our outreach efforts to promote early detection of breast cancer compels us to seek women in hair salons, churches, health fairs, sororities, schools, and civic groups. Additionally, for women in treatment we provide support, a beautiful gift basket and help financially with scholarships of up to $300 per person based on financial need.
As we continue to bring awareness to breast cancer and the disparities in our African-American women, let us be reminded that Breast Awareness is not just a month. We promote awareness every month of the year. Women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day of the year. There is still so much to be done. Can we count on YOU?
We can’t do it alone. We solicit donations to help us promote “Breast Health Matters” in the Central Florida communities in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.
We also invite survivors and non-survivors to join our chapter to be a part of our campaign to “Stop the Silence®” and help save lives from breast cancer and all cancers.
Please join us on Saturday, October 22, 2022 from 9am-3pm at The Experience Christian Center, 5230 Indian Hill Rd, Orlando, FL 32808 for our Annual Gift for Life Block Walk. This innovative program allows members and volunteers to canvas door-to-door in under-served areas and distributes breast health educational information and resource list. Every individual reached is invited back to a local church or community center to hear information provided by a medical person and to hear a survivor story. A boxed lunch is also provided.
Education. Awareness. Early Detection SAVES LIVES!