Susan G. Komen for the Cure has partnered with Tom Joyner’s Take a Loved One to the Doctor to encourage black women to get screenings and become aware of the early signs of breast cancer, the most common found among African American women.
While white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, black women tend to contract it at an earlier age – usually before age 40 – and are twice as likely to die from the disease. It is the second most common cause of cancer death among black women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
Crystal King, an 8-year breast cancer survivor, manager of multicultural marketing for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is an 8-year breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at age 25, while working as a sales manager for Philip Morris USA. After five years with the tobacco giant, she left to go to work for Komen for the Cure.
“We’ve proudly partnered with the TJMS family on many events [including the Tom Joyner Family Reunion] and each time we come away knowing that we’ve made an impact on a community that is so critical to our mission,” King said in a statement from Komen for the Cure.
King organizes Komen activities for awareness and early detection of breast cancer in black women in the U.S. and abroad.
As a manager of Circle of Promise, Komen’s African American program, King works with 122 domestic to expand outreach efforts in minority communities, including speaking with women who are battling breast cancer behind bars.
Breast cancer in black women is more likely to be associated with poor prognosis, especially for what’s commonly known as Triple Negative cancer, a particularly virulent form of the disease that does not respond to traditional breast cancer treatment.
According to Komen, King has traveled the country as a speaker for many occasions and is most recognized for being featured on Cheerios cereal boxes and other General Mills products such as Cheerios Snack Mix, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fiber One Cereals and Warm Delights Brownies to name a few as she represents General Mills as a Pink Together Survivor Ambassador.
Komen urges black women to become Circle of Promise (COP) ambassadors by knowing and encouraging other women to conduct monthly self-exams; get a clinical exam at least every three years, starting at age 20 and annually after age 40; have an annual mammogram starting at age 40, if they are at average risk for getting the disease and learn their family history to determine if they have a genetic risk for breast cancer.
Women are also urged to consult with their doctors to determine when screening should begin and how often.
Komen also encourages women to make healthy lifestyle choices, including eating right and getting regular exercise.
Women should consult a health care expert if they experience:
• a lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
• change in the size or shape of the breast
• dimpling or puckering of the skin
• itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
• pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast
• nipple discharge that starts suddenly
• new pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
To find resources and a local Komen affiliate, go to http://www.circleofpromise.org.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about it,” King said. “Your story may save someone’s life.”