Cancer Survivor Treazure Lee and Recording Artist Shurlavision at Dinah Shore 2008 in Palm Springs, CA

I’ve decided to join my friend and cancer survivor Treazure Lee, publisher of TreazureMag.com, an online magazine for lesbians of color, on Saturday, May 10th, in the Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk For Women. As a Revlon Run/Walk Team, we will be raising money collectively for the fight against women’s cancers while raising awareness and visibility among Black lesbians.

Now a year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of registering to walk in this event, but it’s a new year, and I am a new me, 75 pounds lighter. As much as I am down for the cause of the Revlon Run/Walk For Women, this is also going to be a big challenge for me physically. But it’s going the first in a long line of personal goals that I have created for myself in 2008.

My participation is important to be because how HIV and AIDS has affected the African-American community, in particularly our gay brothers, is how breast cancer is affecting us as sistas.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis among African American women, and among women nationwide. Studies have shown that when African American women follow the same preventive measures as white women, their death rates from breast cancer are very similar. However, African American women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed at later stages of the disease and are more likely to die from it.

Sistas like Treazure who are survivors, are no different than you or I. Breast cancer can happen to any of us, at anytime. What’s important to me besides finding a cure, is that as African-American woman, we have the same access in receiving full treatment so that we can survive breast cancer. That means access to comprehensive health insurance that covers the cost of treatment and to the early life education that’s needed around breast cancer so that we do not continue to be diagnosed later in life when our chances of survival are less.

I think our lives are worth walking for. Don’t you? Join me in bringing out L.A.’s Black lesbian community for this worthy cause as we support our own sista Treazure.

Get Involved

Our Team Number is 497 and we’re calling on other Black lesbians to join us in the cause.

Join Team 497 – If you live in the Los Angeles area and want to join our team and walk with us on Saturday, May 10th, click here to register.

Donate to the Cause – Not in Los Angeles or don’t want to walk the marathon? You can still join the fight by making a donation on my behalf. My bib number 19050. To sponsor me, please click here.

The Facts

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis among African American women, and among women nationwide. Studies have shown that when African American women follow the same preventive measures as white women, their death rates from breast cancer are very similar. However, African American women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed at later stages of the disease and are more likely to die from it. Scientists are still exploring the reasons behind these trends.

The incidence of breast cancer among African American women is slightly lower than it is for white women. In any given year, 95 out of 100,000 African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to 112 out of every 100,000 white women. However, African American women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer before age 50, and white women are more likely to develop breast cancer after age 50. The five-year breast cancer survival rate for African American women is 69%, whereas it is 84% for white women. Overall, the past 5 years have seen an increase in the number of women who undergo hand-examinations by their doctors and mammograms to check for lumps in their breasts.

However, African American women have fewer mammograms than white women and are likely to be diagnosed after the cancer has spread. African American women may be less likely to undergo appropriate treatment because of a higher frequency of low income, single parent households. Consider the following:

  • Time – Breast cancer treatment is both time consuming and draining. Women, who are often used to taking care of others, need to instead be taken care of while they complete treatment.
  • Cost – Breast cancer treatment can be expensive, even if insurance covers the actual costs of treatment. There can also be additional travel costs, childcare costs, or costs for general home upkeep. Women may also lose wages when they miss work.
  • Undertreatment – African American women are less likely to receive appropriate treatment, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Whether they were young or old, in early or late stages of breast cancer, African American women were more likely than white women to go untreated by physicians and to be treated by non-surgical methods.

For low-income women running single parent households, the above considerations are real barriers to receiving full treatment and to surviving breast cancer.

I decided to walk this year because behind each of these statistics is the face of a woman who needs your help — a mother, a wife, a sista, your friend. I hope you’ll support me and our community.