In the United States, breast cancer affects Black women and white women in extremely different ways. White women are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease overall, however, Black women are more likely to have aggressive types of breast cancer and are 40 percent more likely to die from it. Since the founding of Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization four decades ago, much progress in detecting and treating breast cancer has been made. Yet, inequities in care, treatment and outcomes between Black and white women with the disease remain. This is unacceptable.
Susan G. Komen’s program Stand for H.E.R. – a Health Equity Revolution seeks to remove barriers that prevent Black communities from accessing the high-quality care and services they need. Komen believes your race and where you live should not determine your access to quality breast care and resources.
Black women face obstacles and challenges that white women do not due to a combination of factors, including barriers to early diagnosis, the aggressive nature of certain breast cancers that tend to be more common in Black women, such as triple negative breast cancer, systemic racism, discrimination, and a lack of quality care.
Melissa Jones saw her life flash before her eyes when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother and aunt are survivors and as a single mother, she worried about her daughters and what would happen to them if she died. She felt overwhelmed, lost her job and struggled mentally, emotionally and financially.
“I found support through Komen. I reached out and Komen helped me find the resources I needed, be it financial, emotional, medical. That’s huge when you’re going through breast cancer treatment. I was also provided with financial support through a Komen program that works with people in treatment,” Jones recalls.
Monique Eddins remembers being shocked when she received a breast cancer diagnosis. “I had to maintain my composure when I got the phone call because I was in class, so I told the nurse I would call when I was back in my office. When I called her back, she told me the stage, grade and that I have triple negative breast cancer. I had to come back in the following day to discuss a plan forward.”
Breast cancer does not run in Monique’s family, yet through genetic testing, she learned she carries a genetic mutation that increases her risk of breast cancer. “Because of my BRCA 1 gene mutation, I am at risk of ovarian and pancreatic cancers as well. I have three boys ages 17, 15 and 14 and one daughter who is 9. I worry about all of them. They could be carriers of the gene mutation, too, and potentially get breast cancer,” she adds.
Roselyn White struggled to find the resources she needed while going through treatment for breast cancer. After recovering from surgery, she wanted to apply for a patient navigator position at Susan G. Komen so she could help patients overcome obstacles during their treatment to ensure a seamless, high-quality health journey. “In hindsight, having a patient navigator while I was undergoing treatment would have been so beneficial to me,” she says. “It’s hard to find resources when you don’t know where to look.”
Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in the U.S. throughout her lifetime, but lives can be saved when the cancer is caught early. Knowing your risk of breast cancer allows you to make informed choices about your health and take steps to minimize the chances of developing the disease. Learn more about risk here and ways you can take control of your breast health.
Susan G. Komen’s Patient Care Center provides support for anyone concerned about breast cancer. Call 1-877-GO-KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or email email@example.com to connect with a professional who can provide emotional support, access to breast health services, information about clinical trials, breast health and breast cancer education and more.