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Even With exemestane, Breast Cancer Takes On A More Diverse Face

Edit: Shenzhen OK Biotech Technology Co., Ltd. (SZOB)    Date: Oct 28, 2015

Even with exemestanebreast cancer takes on a more diverse face

Judy Presley went numb when she learned the marble-like lump in her breast was cancer.


Her mother suggested she also go mute.


“Don’t tell anyone,” Presley remembers her mom saying.


In her family — and in many other African-American families, Presley says — the uncomfortable and taboo often remain secret.


“We don’t talk about sex,” the 68-year-old Tennessee State University professor says. “We don’t talk about mental illness. Anything that has a negative connotation, we keep it hush, hush.”


But Presley wanted to talk about it.


So much of the breast cancer awareness messaging and marketing lacks a diverse face. That is, in part, because white women have the highest incidence of breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the risk of dying from breast cancer actually is highest in African-American women.


Still, African-American women appear underrepresented in marketing campaigns for breast cancer awareness.


The Links, Incorporated — a national nonprofit for African-American professional women — decided to address the issue by creating a campaign titled "I AM A SURVIVOR." It features Presley, who is a professor at Tennessee State University and an eight-year breast cancer survivor, along with her son, author and entrepreneur Sedrik Newbern. It aims to educate and engage others about the effects of breast cancer on all communities, specifically by sharing survivor stories from African-American women.


#Links31Dayspic.twitter.com/VDbS1kfn5t

— Sedrik R. Newbern (@sedriknewbern) October 3, 2015

“Especially in the African-American community, it’s important for us to speak up and speak out. We don’t always feel comfortable talking about cancer. It’s just our culture.” But, she says, “I think it’s important for people to see you can survive."


Presley is a survivor, but eight years ago she wasn't sure what the future would look like.


Her gynecologist discovered the lump during a routine examine in 2007. When Presley awoke from the follow-up biopsy that took place a few days later, her husband sat at the foot of the bed and her doctor stood above her.


"Judith, you have cancer," she was told.


"I always thought it would really freak me out," Presley says. Instead, she felt anesthetized — and not from the medical procedure. She really believed she would have a stroke before cancer. In part because she didn't know her family history with the disease. No one talked about it.


But her son now wanted to as well. What did this mean? His wife was six months pregnant. Would his mother live to meet her grandchild? He was not only scared, but helpless.


"I always felt this sense of responsibility to protect my mom," Newbern says. "This took me to a place where I felt like there was nothing I could do to fix it and protect her from it."


Diagnosed on a Friday in August, she had surgery — a mastectomy — two weeks later. She needed no radiation or chemotherapy treatments. The cancer, which doctors said was estrogen induced, was gone. Every night for the past eight years she has taken a little, white hormone pill to keep it that way.


Presley believes education is key.


In the past, African-American women were less likely than white women to get regular mammograms, according to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization. As a result, chances of African-American women being diagnosed with more advanced breast cancers may have increased, which could attribute to the difference in survival rates.


However, recent mammography-use rates are more similar. In 2010 66 percent of African-American women and 67 percent of white women ages 40 and older had a mammogram in the past two years, according to Susan G. Komen.


Another factor in the survival gap could be explained by access to follow-up care after an abnormal mammogram. Some findings show that African-American women may have more delays in follow-up care, Komen reports.


But even after accounting for income, past screening rates and access to care, African-American women are diagnosed with more advanced breast cancers and have a worse survival than white women, suggesting that reproductive factors and breast cancer biology also play a role in these disparities.


Before his mom's diagnosis, Newbern was almost immune to breast cancer campaigns. Now, he sees them everywhere. But "the unfortunate thing," he says, "is there has not been a lot of diversity in terms of positioning the need for awareness and pre-screening.


"And with all the health issues people of color face, you would think they would be the face of breast cancer as well."


By some grace his mother is a survivor. And now she can be that face.


Reach Jessica Bliss at 615-259-8253 and on Twitter @jlbliss.


Breast cancer by the numbers


• About 1 in 8 U.S. women (12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of a lifetime.


• 40,290 women in the United States are expected to die in 2015 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989.


• 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.


• White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women. However, in women younger than 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women.


• Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer. In 2011 African-American women had a 44 percent higher rate of breast cancer mortality than white women.


Source: www.breastcancer.org


Support groups and cancer resources


• American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Support Group: cancer.org; 2008 Charlotte, Nashville; 615-327-0991; Cancer Answer Line: 1-800-ACS-2345; has answers about treatments, side effects, caregiving and more.


• American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Support Group — Rutherford County: Meets at Middle Tennessee Medical Center, 400 N. Highland Ave., Murfreesboro; 615-327-0991


• ABC: After Breast Cancer: YMCA of Middle Tennessee; available at Bellevue, Clarksville, Green Hills, Maryland Farms, Robertson County and Rutherford County YMCA locations; provides nutrition, exercise and wellness services free to breast cancer patients and survivors. During the 16-week program, participants receive full access to the Y, a custom wellness plan designed by a Pink Ribbon-certified personal trainer, nutrition counseling from a registered dietitian, and encouragement and support from fellow patients and survivors.


• CanConnect: Canconnect.org; Middle Tennessee’s online community for cancer survivorship, this site connects through personal shared stories and experiences while highlighting cancer-related events, news, resources and programs.


• Gilda’s Club of Nashville: gildasclubnashville.org; 1707 Division St., Nashville; 615-329-1124; offers support groups, healthy lifestyle workshops, social activities, educational lectures, cooking classes and resources that are evidence-based and/or evidence-informed and are provided free of charge.


• Look Good, Feel Better: lookgoodfeelbetter.org: helps women deal with the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. Cosmetology professionals walk women through makeup application, nail care, wig care and more each month at Sumner Regional Medical Center, Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, Vanderbilt Breast Center and Nashville Metro General Hospital.


• PearlPoint Cancer Support: Pearlpoint.org; 615-467-1936; a one-stop resource for cancer treatment and support information.


• Saint Thomas Wellness Center HOPE Program: 615-222-2056; provides cancer patients an opportunity to work with an exercise specialist to address unique physical and mental needs during and after treatment with an individualized, progressive wellness program designed to help regain strength and range of motion.


• Sarah Cannon Cancer Centers: Sarahcannon.com; 615-342-1725; offers integrated cancer services with access to cutting-edge therapies.


• Tennessee Oncology: tnoncology.com/patient-resources; a resource listing for cancer patients that includes psychological services, hints for patients and friends, and community services such as TennCare and United Way.


• Tennessee Breast Cancer Coalition: tbcc.org; 3939 Old Hickory Blvd., Old Hickory; 615-377-8777; established the Emergency Access Fund to provide financial assistance to individuals in financial need because of inability to work and/or mounting medical expenses incurred while undergoing treatment. This fund provides assistance with mortgage and rent payments, utilities, insurance premiums and medical necessities related to treatment. Recipients must be residents of Tennessee and undergoing breast cancer treatments.


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