Why Are Black Women Dying of Breast Cancer, Even Though More White Women Are Diagnosed?
Statistically, black women are more likely to die of breast cancer than white women, even though more white women are diagnosed with it. In fact, among black women, the numbers have changed very little comparatively since the Pink Ribbon campaigning started over twenty years ago. Any statistic showing a lack of progress in fighting cancer is heartbreaking, but what struck me was that besides the difference being accredited to economic issues, and a consequence of a lack of healthcare, the other culprit cited was Fear.Women are dying of breast cancer because they are too afraid to even get tested.
In my work for breast cancer awareness, I speak with women of all nationalities, and they've confirmed these sentiments, and even expressed that fear leads them to take less appropriate treatments. The intensity of treatments, as well as the consequences of them (e.g. worrying about losing a sense of femininity because of the physical ramifications,) are too daunting to stomach for some. This means that not only are many dying from not getting tested, they are risking their lives because they're not seeking the most appropriate treatment options. What this is saying to me is that fear is paralyzing women. Fear is killing women.
I was one of the youngest black women to be diagnosed Her2positive in the state of NY, believe me when I tell you that I am no stranger to that fear. I was away from home, hitting the comedy circuit in LA. It was a time when my main concerns were hitting my "big break" as a comedian, and being young. A bump on my breast was the last thing I should have been thinking about, but it showed up, and it wouldn't change, it didn't itch, it wouldn't go away; and the gnawing sensation I got from it wouldn't either. I called my doctor in NY and went into detail about it with him. He told me, "Give it a couple of days" and, "We can discuss -- if it's still there later." He wasn't being dismissive; he just didn't think a woman my age was at risk of breast cancer.
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