Uniting to End Cancer Disparities for All

Every year, during the third week of June, communities across the United States come together to observe National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week. This important week, spearheaded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Oncology Center of Excellence, aims to raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of cancer on Black families and to promote cancer prevention, screening, and treatment within this community.

Understanding the Disparities
Cancer affects all demographics, but statistics reveal a troubling disparity: Black Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

The reasons for this disparity are multifaceted, involving socioeconomic factors, access to healthcare, environmental exposures, and genetic predispositions.

National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week is designed to address these disparities by:

  1. Promoting Education and Awareness: Increasing awareness about the higher cancer risks faced by Black families encourages proactive health measures. Understanding the importance of early detection and regular screenings can significantly improve survival rates.
  1. Highlighting Preventative Measures: Educating the community about lifestyle choices that can reduce cancer risk, such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use, is crucial.
  1. Encouraging Participation in Clinical Trials: There is a significant underrepresentation of Black Americans in clinical trials, which can hinder the development of effective treatments for this demographic. National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week seeks to increase awareness and participation in these trials, ensuring that new treatments are tested for efficacy across diverse populations.

Community Engagement
One of the most impactful aspects of National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week is its focus on community involvement.

Local organizations, healthcare providers, and advocates host a variety of events and initiatives to engage the community, such as:

  • Health Fairs and Screenings: Offering free or low-cost cancer screenings and health check-ups to encourage early detection.
  • Educational Workshops: Providing information on cancer prevention, treatment options, and the importance of regular medical check-ups.
  • Support Groups and Counseling Services: Creating spaces for those affected by cancer to share their experiences, receive support, and find resources.

Real Stories, Real Impact
Hearing from individuals who have been affected by cancer can be incredibly powerful. Testimonials from cancer survivors, family members, and healthcare providers highlight the real-life impact of cancer within the Black community. These stories create solidarity and provide hope, reminding us that we are not alone in this fight.

Taking Action
Here are some ways you can get involved in National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week:

  1. Spread the Word: Use social media platforms to share information and resources. The hashtags #Cervivor #CervivorNoir #BlackFamCan #EndCervicalCancer are a great way to join the conversation and reach a wider audience.
  2. Participate in Local Events: Attend health fairs, workshops, and other events in your community. Encourage friends and family to join you.
  1. Volunteer: Offer your time to local organizations that are hosting events or providing support services.
  1. Get Screened: If you haven’t already, schedule a cancer screening. Encourage your loved ones to do the same. The hashtag #Screen4Me is a great way to spread awareness and share the importance of screening.

National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week is more than just a week of activities; it’s a call to action for year-round commitment to addressing and reducing the impact of cancer on Black families. By coming together, we can make significant strides in education, prevention, and treatment, ultimately saving lives and creating healthier communities.

Cervivor Community Members and Cervical Cancer Survivors (Left to Right): Keesha Carter, Gwendolyn Jackson, and Lindsay Gullatte-Lee

As we observe National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week, let’s remember that awareness and action go hand in hand. Together, we can create a future where cancer disparities are a thing of the past, and every family has the knowledge and resources to fight cancer effectively.

Team Cervivor Attends ASCO 2024

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting is a premier event in the oncology community, gathering thousands of professionals from around the globe to discuss groundbreaking research, innovative treatments, and the future of cancer care. This year, Team Cervivor attended ASCO 2024, marking a significant milestone for our organization and highlighting the critical role of patient advocates in the fight against cancer.

What is ASCO?
ASCO, founded in 1964, is a leading professional organization for physicians and oncology professionals. Its mission is to conquer cancer through research, education, and the promotion of the highest quality patient care. The annual ASCO meeting is the largest of its kind, offering a platform for the latest scientific advancements, policy discussions, and networking opportunities. Attendees include oncologists, researchers, pharmaceutical representatives, and patient advocates, all united in their dedication to improving cancer care.

Our presence at ASCO 2024 was a testament to the growing recognition of the importance of patient voices in shaping cancer care and research. Here’s why our participation matters:

  1. Amplifying Patient Voices: As patient advocates, we bring the perspectives and experiences of those directly affected by cervical cancer. Our stories and insights are invaluable in guiding research priorities and improving patient care practices.
  2. Cultivating Collaboration: Attending ASCO allows us to collaborate with researchers, clinicians, and other advocacy groups. These interactions help us stay informed about the latest advancements and ensure that patient needs are at the forefront of scientific discussions.
  3. Promoting Awareness and Education: By engaging with the oncology community, we can spread awareness about cervical cancer, highlight the importance of prevention and early detection, and share our educational resources. Our presence at ASCO reinforces the message that cervical cancer is preventable and treatable when caught early.
  1. Influencing Policy and Research: Our participation at ASCO provides opportunities to advocate for policies that benefit cervical cancer patients and survivors. We can also contribute to shaping research agendas by emphasizing areas that require more attention, such as disparities in cancer care and the psychosocial impacts of the disease.

Team Cervivor Listed from Left to Right: Morgan Newman, MSW, Community Engagement Liaison; Tamika Felder, Founder & Chief Visionary; and Kimberly Williams, MHCM, Chief Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer

Highlights from ASCO 2024
ASCO 2024 was a whirlwind of inspiring sessions, groundbreaking research presentations, and meaningful interactions. Here are some highlights from our experience:

Networking Opportunities: We connected with oncologists, researchers, and fellow advocates, nurturing relationships that will strengthen our advocacy efforts. These connections are crucial for creating a supportive network dedicated to cervical cancer eradication.

Media and Outreach: We participated in interviews, highlighting the importance of patient advocacy and the work we do. These media opportunities allowed us to reach a broader audience and amplify our message.

We also had the honor of having our Founder and Chief Visionary, Tamika Felder, speak on a crucial panel titled, “Bridging the Gap in Cancer Care for Adolescents and Young Adults” hosted by The Atlantic. This enlightening session shed light on the challenges faced by the nearly 1.5 million adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer each year. Addressing issues such as work, health insurance, school, fertility, and emotional distress, the panel explored the unique cancer biology of this age group and the lack of survival improvements compared to other age demographics. Tamika, alongside other survivors, oncologists, and advocates, shared her journey and insights, emphasizing the importance of tailored care and pioneering local programs that support the distinct needs of young cancer patients. Her participation underscored Team Cervivor’s commitment to advocating for comprehensive and compassionate cancer care for all age groups.

Attending ASCO 2024 was more than just an opportunity to learn and network; it was a chance to reaffirm our commitment to the mission to end cervical cancer. We left the conference inspired and energized, ready to continue our mission with renewed vigor. Our presence at ASCO underscores the vital role of patient advocates in the oncology community, and we are proud to be a voice for cervical cancer patients and survivors worldwide.

As we move forward, we will leverage the knowledge and connections gained at ASCO to enhance our educational programs, support initiatives, and advocacy efforts. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by cervical cancer and work towards a future free of this preventable disease. Stay tuned for more updates from Team Cervivor and join us in our journey to eradicate cervical cancer. Together, we are stronger, and together, we can achieve a world without cervical cancer.