Normani, Jazmine Sullivan, And More Speak On The Importance Of Self-Exams After Breast Cancer Hits Close To Home
October is breast cancer awareness month. According to cancer.org, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women and Black women have the highest death rate from the disease. Every October, we are reminded of the shocking statistics and how essential preventive measures are. Normani has joined the conversation about breast cancer among Black women after sharing that her mother has been diagnosed with the disease for a second time. One of the things she learned from her mom was the importance of breast self-exams.
“I watched my mother find her own lumps both times she had breast cancer,” Normani said according to ESSENCE. “She taught me the importance of looking out for changes in your breasts and educated me on what mammograms were at an early age.”
Along with self-exams, the “Motivation” singer, who is also an ambassador with the American Cancer Society, wants people to look into genetic testing. “I also encourage anyone who has a family member with cancer to see that your family talks to a doctor about genetic testing,” she said. “We have taken these measures as a family. Knowledge is power, so whatever you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask.”
Jazmine Sullivan has also been fighting to disseminate information to the Black community about breast cancer after her mom was diagnosed with the disease in 2019. She fought the disease but unfortunately, the singer revealed during her recent One Music Fest performance that it came back.
The “Pick Up Your Feelings” singer echoed the same sentiments as Normani about knowing your family’s history. In a 2021 interview with Yahoo, Jazmine shared steps she’s taken to minimize her risk of the disease. “Setting up my own mammogram, talking to my mother about our family history,” she said. “What was crazy is that she actually has a sister that had breast cancer twice. So it really shouldn't have been as shocking as it was in our family, but I feel like a lot of families don't really talk about it.”
“And that's the problem; we don't discuss our own family history with health, [which] became important to me as well [and] that trickled into the conversations that I'm having with my girlfriends.”
Breastcancer.org has listed a step-by-step process in performing a breast self-exam. Here’s what to do:
Step 1: Stand in the mirror with your hands on your hips and exam your breasts. Check to see that everything looks the same and there aren’t any changes such as redness, rashes, inverted nipple, swelling, or bulging of the skin.
Step 2: Continue looking in the mirror but raise your arms this time. Look to see if any fluid (watery, milky, yellow fluid, or blood) is coming out of your nipples.
Step 3: Lay down and check your breasts for any lumps or abnormalities. Take two fingers and press down on each breast and also move them in a circular motion.
Step 4: Lastly, stand up or sit down and check your breasts for lumps or abnormalities using the same techniques in step 3.
Call your doctor if you notice any lumps or abnormalities.
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Featured image by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Burberry
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How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
What If You're Just (Sigh)...Tired Of Being Married?
If there’s a contradiction that never ceases to amaze me when it comes to marriage, it’s the fact that it’s typically more women (than men) who desire to get married, and also it’s more women who initiate divorce (around 70 percent, to be exact; some stats say 80 percent within the Black community. Wow). When it comes to all of this, if there’s a consistency that I’ve noticed in the counseling sessions that link these two points, it’s that a lot of women went into marriage thinking it would be one way and then opt to leave when they find themselves being utterly disappointed.
As a matter of fact, that reason tends to come up far more than affairs, abuse, or even financial troubles do. Even though vows are supposed to be sacred and taken very seriously, unfortunately, a lot of people—husbands and wives alike—will break their commitment to their partner simply because they aren’t “feeling it” anymore. I’ve said it many times before because that’s just how much I mean it: unfortunately, the way a lot of people date, it teaches them to get divorced than to be married because they fall in love, break up, move on…fall in love, break up and move on…over and over and over again. So, by the time they do actually say “I do,” it doesn’t hold very much value. And yes, that is unfortunate. Sad even. Sometimes quite tragic as well.
Today, though, we’re not going to get deep into what people should strongly consider before getting married and definitely before getting divorced. No, what we’re going to explore is the fact that while a covenant union is beautiful (and purposeful) beyond measure, it’s also not for the faint of heart. As I also oftentimes say, “marriage ain’t for punks,” and it’s really not. No matter how much you love and (hopefully) like the partner you’ve chosen, there are going to be days when the last thing you want to do is stay married—maybe because you grieve your single life, maybe because of the sacrifices and constant compromising that marriage requires, maybe because marriage wasn’t what you thought it would be.
Whether you’ve been married for two or 20 years, if you clicked on this article because you can totally relate to having moments when you are simply sick and tired of being married, I’ve got some questions that I think you should ask yourself; ones that will hopefully help you to connect some dots and get the fuel that you need to stay in the love/marriage/until death parts us game.
What Was Your Perception of Marriage Before Jumping the Broom?
A quote that I’m not sure is exactly 100 percent true is “perception is reality.” The reason why I say that is because reality is based on truth and facts, and so, just because you see something a certain way, that doesn’t automatically make it factual or rooted in truthfulness (lawd, I could do an entire TED Talk on that alone).
And you know what? Marriage is no exception here. So, let’s start there. When it comes to what you thought marriage was gonna be, did you think you were going to be Cinderella with her Prince Charming (fairy tales, by definition, are stories told to children that aren’t even true. Plus, we don’t know what happened after the “and they lived happily ever after” part)? Maybe you thought it would be reminiscent of your favorite rom-com (that’s a script, and those are characters).
Perhaps you envisioned that it would be like a couple you know (people only tell others what they want them to know; always remember that). Or maybe, you fantasized that it was going to be more about someone giving you all of what you want and you doing very little or, as I tell brides often, that you were going to be a bride all of your life instead of just for one day (the rest of the time, you’re supposed to be a wife).
The reason why this question is super important is that it’s important to separate perception from reality/facts. Because sometimes, people leave marriages, not because anything is necessarily “wrong”; it’s simply because they have been so caught up in what they thought it would be that they lost sight of what it really is. The Bible often refers to this as “vain imaginations” — the ego feeding the mind with all kinds of random ideas…oftentimes ones that are so unrealistic that it causes people to participate in self-sabotaging behaviors.
Why Did You Get Married?
I’m not sure if I have a favorite Tyler Perry movie. I’ll just leave that where I put it (as a writer, I’m a big fan of people who actually hire writers, feel me). What I will say is a movie of his that I’ve seen, lawd, how many times has BET played it is Why Did I Get Married? and when it comes to what we’re discussing today, that’s something else that definitely needs to be explored to the utmost.
As a marriage life coach, I’ve talked to women who got married solely because they didn’t want to be single moms; women who didn’t want to deal with financial stresses and pressures alone; women who just assumed that was what they were supposed to do (either due to family, religion or social pressure); women who were afraid of being alone (this includes not wanting to be the only unmarried friend); women who thought that marriage had so many more perks than single living (eh, depends on who you ask and when you ask them) — the list is endless.
Here’s the thing about this particular point: when you know your why, it’s easier to navigate through your when and what. Example. I know a wife who got married (young) because she hated her home life, and she knew that her husband adored her. Problem was, he felt more strongly about her than she did about him, and so, when he lost his job, he wasn’t able to spoil her like he used to because she didn’t love him as much as he loved her, so she left.
A big part of the reason why she left is that her “why” was pretty shaky right out of the gate. See what I mean? Sitting within yourself in your “why” can be extremely revelatory. Definitely make sure that you do it.
Why Did You Marry…HIM?
There’s marriage. Then there’s the person you got married to. That said, there’s someone in my world who is currently going through a divorce (actually, sadly, there are a few folks). Something that she is currently unpacking is this very question. Oh, the layers. One is that the way he dated her isn’t the way he acted after marriage (he got lazy, he got entitled, he got assuming). Another is she ignored several red flags, thinking that they would just…go away (like his really unhealthy attachment to his mother). Another is because she believed he would support her career when he turned out to just want to control it.
Y’all, this is reason one billion why premarital counseling is crucial (for starters, you have a 30 percent higher success rate if you participate in some). When you’re all caught up in how someone makes you feel, you need an objective person to basically be like, “I mean, that’s cool ‘n all, but you do know that marriage is about a lot more than that…right?” And then, throughout your marriage, you should at least see a reputable marriage therapist/counselor/life coach a couple of times a year to “take y’all’s temperature” to make sure that things are still running (relatively smoothly).
Anyway, the thing about this particular wife is she and her husband have been in some form of therapy their entire marriage. I know him personally and can vouch for the fact that he’s arrogant and unteachable (basically because he thinks he knows better than everyone else). She’s also realized that she was looking for him to feel voids to the point where she didn’t make the time to get to know him better. And now she gets that her reasons for choosing him had very little to do with him at all. The therapy that she is getting outside of her marriage has revealed that she picks men who sweep her off of her feet only to expect her to do most of the heavy lifting once a commitment is in place — and she keeps doing that because she’s a colossal people pleaser...and people-pleasing is oftentimes tied into trauma.
She’s leaving her marriage because he refuses to actually let therapy do its job (he does it more to pacify her than anything else), and they really are at a stalemate because of it — and that has led to constant retraumatization for her, so I get it. However, when it comes to a lot of other women, they will just leave without looking into the mirror and tackling this question. That’s unfortunate, too, because if you don’t get the answer(s) to this one, a new man/marriage isn’t going to change anything. Chances are, all you’re gonna do is pick the same guy over and over again — because you’re on an internal loop that needs some work.
What About Him Has Changed Since Saying, “I Do?”
Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about how we’re trying to figure out how to meet each other’s needs now that they’ve both changed quite a bit since we first became close. I’m telling you that it isn’t addressed enough that one of the main reasons why so many long-term relational dynamics hit walls is because one or both people expect the other person to always remain the same.
Not only is that unrealistic, but it also isn’t fair. And to make matters worse, it can be the ultimate gaslight to try and make someone feel bad for changing just because it might “shake up” your idea of them or result in you having to learn how to become more flexible when it comes to adjusting to their…shifts.
Listen, life is about evolving, and no one is designed to remain stagnant. So, if a part of what’s got you stressin’ is the fact that your man isn’t who he used to be, is that honestly a bad thing, or have you just gotten so comfortable that you don’t want to learn how to adjust?
In order for you to answer this question, you’re going to have to really think about how he’s changed — and then you’ve got to be honest with yourself that if the changes are improvements that require you to do some growing up…that’s a good thing. On the other hand, if the changes are simply different and unfamiliar, that’s what you need to discuss with him — not berate or condemn…simply discuss.
What About You Has Changed Since Saying, “I Do?”
When it comes to relationships, I’ve shared before that one of my favorite quotes is, “People change and forget to tell each other.” Keeping this in mind, just like he’s changed, it’s fair to say that you have as well — and the interesting thing about marriage is sometimes two people change at different times and paces.
I think that’s why a lot of people will end their marriage and simply chalk it up to “Hey, we grew apart” when it really isn’t that simple. Even the Bible says that when a husband and wife get together, they “shall become one” (Genesis 2:24-25), and there is absolutely no timetable for that. That’s because marriage, Scripturally, is designed to last until death parts two individuals (a foreign concept these days, I know). And that’s a huge part of the reason why The Love Chapter of the Bible starts off by saying that “love is patient” (I Corinthians 13:4) and patient is where the big kids play.
Patient: bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like; quietly and steadily persevering or diligent, especially in detail or exactness.
And this is why I oftentimes find myself rolling my eyes when folks profess how “in love” they are very early on because if it’s not shown with patience, I highly doubt that its roots go very deep.
All of what I just said, it’s setting the stage for how to handle things if you’ve realized that you’ve changed. Just like you should evaluate how your changes have impacted you, your man, and the relationship, you also need to talk to him about how he feels about said changes because looking for a way out under the guise of “we grew apart” is not honoring your vows or giving your marriage a fair shake.
Besides, it’s okay to change — to not be the same woman you were on your wedding day. What’s not okay is not communicating how all of that has altered needs, wants, and expectations. And so, instead, you just…leave.
What Kind of Tired Are You?Tired Black Girl GIF by MonA Hayslett - Find & Share on GIPHYGiphy
"Tired" is an interesting word. The reason why I say that is it doesn't have just one general meaning. It can mean that you're fatigued. It can mean that you're bored (check out "Bored All Of The Time? Here's What's Really Going On.”) An informal definition is that you're disgusted.
So, you already know where I'm going with this particular point, right? If you feel like you're tired of being married, another thing to ponder is what kind of tired are you? Don't just assume that the word itself is all-encompassing or a good enough reason to end it because, if you're fatigued, that's to be expected. A lot of things wear us out — rest and rejuvenation can get us back on track.
If you're bored, yeah… that's not a good enough reason to end a marriage either. In fact, that's got all kinds of immaturity written all over it because to break a promise, to end such a significant union (and, let's be real, business arrangement) and, if you have children, to intentionally put them at the well and long-term documented odds that come with the brokenness of divorce (you can read about some of it here, here, here and here), being bored just isn't good enough.
Now if you're disgusted — that is something worth unpacking on a few different levels. Are you disgusted with how your spouse is acting or not acting? Are you disgusted that you've shared your needs, and they keep going unmet? Are you disgusted by the fact that nothing seems to change no matter how much you want them to? Maybe you're disgusted with yourself for being so…disgusted. Perhaps there are things that you've been hiding from your spouse that you're disgusted about.
If disgust is the issue, it's time to speak with a professional. And in the meantime, you've probably heard somewhere before that it's never wise to make serious decisions when you're tired, hungry, or angry. Pinpoint what's got you feeling the way that you do, manage your emotions with a mental health specialist, and then decide where to go from there.
What Do Your Vows Mean to You…Now?
Sometimes, I feel like one of the best things that could ever happen to two people who are experiencing a low spot in their marriage is that they really think about what a vow is. It's not just something you say. A vow is rooted in serious intent. A vow is rooted in integrity. A vow is something that goes beyond how you feel at any given time. A vow is defined as being "a solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment." And if you got married believing that God was a part of the union, it's also "a solemn promise made to a deity or saint committing oneself to an act, service, or condition," and there's a Scripture that speaks on that part:
"When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—Better not to vow than to vow and not pay." (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 — NKJV)
So, let's say that you said traditional marriage vows during your ceremony:
"In the name of God, I, _____, take you, _____, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until parted by death."
When you said it, did you mean it? And when it comes to where you stand now, do you still mean it? If so, what can you do to push through the "tiredness?" If not, what are you gonna do about the fact that you took vows and vows are nothing to play with?
You know, we live in a culture where very few people live by the code "my word is my bond" anymore. How much stock do you put into your marriage vows? How much does your husband? It's something else worth discussing with him as soon as possible.
Would Life Actually Be Better After Leaving or Just…Different?Giphy
You know, it’s been reported that at least one-third of individuals who get divorced end up regretting their decision. One reason is that the person you were going into your marriage isn’t the person you are going out and the dating pool tends to shift drastically over the course of time. Another reason is that if you don’t do some serious self-introspection, hopping into another relationship isn’t going to change much.
In fact, divorce rates tend to jump almost 20 percent per remarriage. Another reason is that, even if you don’t feel about your partner the way you once did, oftentimes it’s still irrefutable that they are a good person — and good people can be hard to come by out in these streets.
So yeah, let’s end here. If you’re tired, you don’t need to ignore that. Being tired is definitely signaling some things. Yet before throwing in the towel (or doing something that could jeopardize your marriage, like cheating), please don’t romanticize that things would be better if you left.
If that’s what you’re thinking, this is something else to tackle with a therapist/counselor/life coach so that you can see past the rose-colored glasses of what you think reality would be like into the facts of the truth. Because, oftentimes, leaving a marriage doesn’t make life better; it just makes things different…and the differences can come with a whole ‘nother set of issues that can end up wearing you out too.
Yeah, I know this was A LOT to tackle, yet hopefully, if tired of being married is exactly what you’re feeling right now, this all has given you some real food for thought.
In the meantime, remember that being tired is oftentimes fleeting.
Ending a marriage? It is not.
Please choose wisely, sis.
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