Friday, March 28, 2008

Breast Cancer: The Other Story

After shuffling around the hotel to find Salon B, I finally found the room to learn about something close to my heart — breast cancer.

Vanessa Sheppard, assistant professor, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, spoke about this disease and all the sociological issues surrounding breast cancer.

Breast caner is the leading cancer in women and second cause of cancer death. Despite this commonality, racial and ethnic differences in quality of life exist related to socioeconomic status.

Sheppard focused mostly on African American women — the highest mortality of all ethnic groups. Among these women, there is a lower incidence among younger women and less likely to have adjuvant therapies.

So she created a program called Sisters Informing Sisters, a program designed to educate, inform and support.

The fascinating component about this program is that they offered a survivor coach to help women cope. This was a wonderful idea to me. It broke down the fears and worries of women that may have difficulty communicating with their health care provider. Got a question? Don't know how to ask? Just talk to your trained survivor coach!!

And so why is this so close to my heart? My grandmother was diagnosed when she was 65. I cannot imagine the support that she could have had if she was lucky enough for a survivor coach. Maybe some things would have been clearer. Maybe she would have had it easier. At the very least, she would have been more educated. But thankfully, she survived and I only wish that she could be a survivor coach for other women.

2 comments:

Pia said...

Great posts about the conference!
We're including links to your posts and some other live updates from the conference from the AHCJ Web site too: http://www.healthjournalism.org/hj08updates.

Pat Thomas said...

Back in Athens, GA, the health department is about to hire a new patient educator who will focus on educating women -- mostly low-income -- about self-examination and mammography.