Cancer: the word alone strikes fear in my heart from the depths of places I didn't even know existed.
And while I've been pretty healthy my entire life, as I get older, I find myself thinking more and more about the possibility of battling a health crisis that I might not be as prepared for as I should be.
I've seen cancer seemingly pop up out of nowhere and take the lives of people that have meant the world to me.
When I think of breast cancer in particular, I think about my aunts, my friend's mother, my half sister, her mother, the ones that couldn't beat it, and the countless survivors I've seen on TV or have read about in the media. But why don't I ever think about myself? I subconsciously check my breasts frequently, so I think I "know my girls" pretty well. They have lives of their own, they even have nicknames, but—I'm ashamed to admit— their health hasn't always been a priority. The truth is, I've never felt I had the right kind of resources to truly understand the risk factors, much less the prevalence of the disease in my own community, or the preventative measures readily available to me—until now.
How well do you Know Your Girls?
Breast Cancer Pecs GIF by CoppaFeel!Giphy
You've probably heard of Susan G. Komen: the world's leading breast cancer organization. In partnership with the Ad Council (the nation's leader of PSA's), they recently launched KnowYourGirls, an initiative that aims to educate and inspire black women to understand their risk for breast cancer and take charge of their breast health. The American Cancer Society recently revealed some startling facts in their research publication, entitled Cancer; Facts & Figures for African-Americans 2016-2018:
Black women in the U.S. are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, and a recent study found that while 92 percent of black women agree breast health is important, only 25 percent of women have recently discussed breast health with their family, friends, or colleagues and only 17 percent have taken steps to understand their risk for breast cancer.
That's where the Know Your Girls campaign wants to step in by helping to empower black women to not only know their risk factors and pay more attention to their breast health, but to also begin to diminish the fear associated with the disease. Lisa Sherman, the President and CEO of the Ad Council, feels that the campaign introduces an unprecedented way for black women to embrace our sisterhood while educating and empowering each other about the importance of breast health:
The Know Your Girls campaign introduces breast cancer education through a celebration of the powerful sisterhood between black women. Instead of focusing on fear, the campaign provides tools and information that can help black women feel ownership around their breast health and encourages the sharing of those resources and messages with the women who support them throughout their lives.
The campaign has bold goals beyond breast health education. The Know Your Girls campaign is aimed at black women because the disparity in our mortality rates compared to white women is so great. Susan G. Komen's goal is to reduce the current 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. This goal cannot be achieved without educating and equipping black women with the tools they need to prevent and/or fight this deadly disease. According to Steve Stoute, Founder and CEO of Translation, "Creating a healthy dialogue between women of color, their fears, and their breasts is a critical step towards eradication."
So what are you waiting for? Head over to KnowYourGirls.org to get more details on the statistics, read personal stories, get informed and get involved in this important discussion.
Don't forget to pass this info on to your friends and family, too. Your girls will thank you!
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