Black Breast Cancer centralises basic relevant breast cancer information for people of African heritage. It represents what I wanted to find in resources when I was initially diagnosed with the disease.
Quite simply, when I was making decisions about my health, I wondered what other black women had done and were doing elsewhere. It dawned on me that although discreet voices of breast cancer had twittered around in the background of my life for many years, I had no tangible reach to my sisters except one. I’ll be forever grateful to Juliet Amoa, who was one of my guiding lights. Otherwise, I felt disempowered by undergoing this breast cancer journey with the experiences of others mainly unknown to me.
As a Black African Woman of Jamaican parentage, born and raised in Britain, I want Black Breast Cancer to be a place of refuge, wherever you are in the world. Let it be a place where you can get support and reassurance. You are but a click away from WITNESSING, WATCHING or READING stories about the breast cancer experiences from someone who looks like you.
At the same time, I shall be clear that I had support from beautiful white friendships I value deeply, especially Nicola Buckle and Maura Evans. Ultimately, love and support are something to receive with grace regardless of what we look like or who we know ourselves to be.
Once my breast cancer treatment began, I learned of the possible breast cancer threads interweaving with African ancestry. The first person to alert me was Dr Fiona Castell, my oncologist, a British woman from Kings College London, where I received my treatment. She was worried about the higher rates of black women dying from the disease in South London, and that’s when the world of breast cancer and black women introduced itself to me.
For most of my life, I’ve worried about political rights, social justice, reparations, the education of black African people, and more. With sharp clarity, it dawned on me (whilst pondering my mortality) that we needed to stay alive first.
I was staggered to learn that the black breast cancer pattern in South London mirrored a worldwide profile.
So Black Breast Cancer fulfils one of my promises to the ancestors given full recovery. I’m blessed with a second chance, so I’m trying as hard as I can to give back wisely. The aim is to put us at the centre of our breast cancer health concerns. You’ll see as you go along that the racial component is a crucial one though there’s still a considerable amount for us to learn.
Oncologists, researchers, geneticists, and general practitioners, play their part with varying degrees of success. We need to play ours, especially once we know better. By putting African heritage families at the centre of our breast cancer lives, we can not only learn from each other but find more effective strategies together as we advance.
Producing future generations depends on the maintenance of healthy black women – nearly all breast cancers start from the milk duct of our breast glands. Yet the least amount of money is spent upon us, whether in medical research or our public lives.