AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Susan G. Komen has launched a new initiative called Stand for H.E.R. – a health equity revolution, a bold new effort to decrease the gap in breast cancer mortality between Black and white women.
“Thanks to advances in treatment and increased access to early detection, we have had 41% decline in breast cancer mortality rate since 1989, which is wonderful, but at the same time that is happening we have noticed a huge disparity increase in Black and white women,” said Natasha Mmeje, community program director for Stand for H.E.R.
Mmeje said health equity means that everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible and that the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is committed to removing racism, bias, and other barriers to care for individuals and communities experiencing health disparities.
According to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Black women are about 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.
Black women have a lower 5-year breast cancer survival rate compared to white women.
And Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, at later stages, and with more aggressive types of breast cancer than white women.
Mmeje said these disparities are not only issues of health, but of racial, ethnic, and social injustices these women are facing.
“Black women mentioned not being trusted as much by their medical provider. They mentioned having a situation where those medical providers are treating them a little bit differently. They feel there is some racism, they feel there is some bias in the health care system and all of this exist for Black women,” said Mmeje.
The new Stand for H.E.R initiative was created to close those gaps and provide much-needed resources.
“We’re working with culturally competent patient navigators who are Komen trained in our communities. We are partnering with the American Society of Clinical Oncology to create better treatment options among different places in our ten metro areas. We are also working on creating educational materials that are around genetic testing and counseling,” added Mmeje.
As Stand for H.E.R is focusing is on the 10 metropolitan areas with the greatest breast cancer inequities, Mmeje added it’s important for areas like Amarillo to also consider these gaps.
“We looked at Dallas-Fort Worth in particular, but we saw that most of the resources for breast cancer exist in Dallas County. So that means that people in more rural communities have less access to mobile mammography, to breast cancer support groups, and the care and help they might get for that,” said Mmeje.
She added Stand for H.E.R was made possible thanks to the funding of Robert Smith and the Fund II Foundation.