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Breast cancer is leading cause of cancer death for Black women, new study shows

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Posted at 9:19 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 21:19:04-04

(WXYZ) — New findings are revealing breast cancer disparities. According to a new report, it's the leading cause of cancerous deaths among Black women — and their chance of survival is significantly less compared to white women.

"I was very faithful and consistent getting my mammograms ... did it every year,"said Rosalind Kimbrough. "I ask the question every day, 'what did I do wrong to get cancer?'"

It was just by chance about 10 years ago, Rosalind decided to touch her breasts before bed.

"I started to settle to go to sleep, and something woke me up and said 'no, touch your breast the way you learned,' and I just did," she said. "When I got to my left breast, I felt something ... it was a solid mass of some sort, didn't have a lot of movement to it."

She added, "And believe it or not, I said 'I have cancer.'"

And it was stage three — a total shock to the system, because Rosalind had just had a mammogram three months before finding that lump.

"Mammograms are what is preached every day to women, they should constantly stay on top of those and get those scheduled ... do self breast examinations. I didn't do self examinations, but that fateful day I did. Imagine if I didn't," she said.

Rosalind has been through three months of chemo, one full month of radiation.

"I've had 11 or 12 surgeries," said Rosalind. "The message is to talk to other women, because cancer doesn't discriminate against ethnicity, or age of females or even in males. It just comes right on in, it storms right on in."

A new report from the American Cancer Society shows that breast cancer survival rates may very well be discriminatory. Breast cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death for Black women, surpassing lung cancer.

And when compared to white women with breast cancer, the chance of survival is 40 percent lower for Black women.

"We know that we have to start with the fact that systemic racism really drives a lot of the health inequities that are experienced both in the Black community and other communities," said Tawana Thomas-Johnson of the American Cancer Society. "When you look at other barriers to high-quality treatments, such as not having access to transportation, there are so many issues that impact the disparities that we are talking about today."

Thomas-Johnson said we can encourage each other through our communities.

"Grab your girls and go get screened," she said.

It is also a good time to consider ways we can reduce our risk, like proper nutrition and physical activity.

As for Rosalind's journey, she said this is the beginning of something new and beautiful.

"That's how I'm looking at my life," she said.

To learn more about the cancer disparities research, click here.