Sisters Network Hosts National Town Hall on The Breast Cancer Crisis Black Women Are Facing
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Sisters Network, Inc., a national African American breast cancer survivorship organization and one of the Black community’s leading voices in the battle against breast cancer, hosted a town hall event Oct. 16 to explore the breast cancer crisis Black women are facing.
“Sisters Network Inc. is an organization dedicated to increasing the local and national attention to the devastating impact breast cancer has in the Black community nationwide,” Founder and CEO Karen Eubanks Jackson said. “The sisterhood we share as survivors is special. We’re women that make things happen, we’re women that care about each other and we are women that work tirelessly to educate, inform Black women about breast cancer awareness and empower them to make their health a top priority.”
The Sisters Network hosted The State of The Black Breast Cancer Crisis: A National Town Hall Virtual Discussion, billed as a call to action to address the issue. For more information, go to www.sistersnetworkinc.org.
“Sisters Network national town hall is a virtual event, but a powerful event because we are going to look at the landscape of what the Black breast cancer crisis looks like in the United States, where we are now, where we’ve been and where we need to go moving forward to save Black women’s lives,” said Caleen Allen, Vice President, Sisters Network, Inc.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. The ACS says this year approximately 281,550 women will get breast cancer and nearly 44,000 will die of the disease.
But for African American women those statistics are even more dire. Despite having similar incidence rates (white women have a slightly higher rate), Black women have a 40 percent higher death rate than white women, and at every age are more likely to die from the disease.
“As an organization we believe it’s a crisis and that’s what we’re calling it because when you have Black women dying at such alarming rates and being diagnosed young and with the most aggressive cancer, that’s a crisis,” Allen said.
“We know something different must be done so we need our medical experts, our policy leaders, elected officials and national community leaders, organizations, etc. along with Sisters Network to come together collectively to figure out what can be done differently.
“Essentially,” she continued, “What we’re doing is really raising the flag, sounding the alarm saying there’s a problem with breast cancer and Black women, it’s a crisis. What are we going to do about it? Because what we’re doing now is not enough and not working.”
The town hall will be moderated by CNN’s National Correspondent Athena Jones. Speakers include Jackson, now a 28-year, four-time breast cancer survivor, Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, also a breast cancer survivor and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Medical professionals, policy experts and community leaders from across the country will participate in panels discussing a wide range of topics including: The State of Black Breast Cancer Crisis; Early Detection: What to Know about 3D Mammograms and Ultrasounds; Genes Matter: Know Your Family History; Black Women & Clinical Trials Participation; and Why Are More Black Women Being Diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer? The Network will also launch a new Black breast cancer health equity initiative.
Jackson founded Sisters Network, Inc. in 1994 during her own personal fight to survive breast cancer. At the time she says mortality rates for Black women were high and culturally sensitive materials on the topic limited. Today the organization has 3,000 members and more than 25 chapters nationwide. Their mission is to provide financial, educational, and moral support to the Black community and eliminate disparities.
“Right now is an exciting time for our organization as the inequity in healthcare is coming to the forefront,” Jackson said. “For nearly three decades, Sisters Network has done all we can to open the eyes of our community across the nation to amplify awareness about the devastating impact that breast cancer is having and has been having in the Black community. Now more than ever, Sisters Network feels it’s time for us to present the Black breast cancer crisis reality and wake us all up to what really is happening. We must take action to help improve the plight of Black women and breast cancer. It’s time and we are ready.”