A few weeks ago, I had breakfast with some of the most beautiful and brilliant ladies I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Hundreds of leading Black and Latina women from across the Chicago area gathered to share their stories-as breast cancer survivors and fighters.
Leading this event was my friend, Donna Thompson, CEO of Access Community Health Network. Donna is a true gift to all of us as she and her colleagues tirelessly wage the campaign to save our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and friends from such an unforgiving enemy as breast cancer. Please read the following-and more importantly, please get involved.
Mother’s Day 2007 has become an opportunity for women across the Chicagoland area to focus even more attention on the issue of breast cancer. While thousands of women and girls participate in the Y-Me Run and Walk for Breast Cancer on Mother’s Day each year in Grant Park, a new effort was launched this year to involve African-American and Latino women who do not traditionally participate in the Y-Me Walk or run.
More than 70,000 people were pinned with pink ribbons during Mother’s Day worship services at more than 50 Chicago-area churches in the African-American and Latino communities. “Pin-a-Sister Sunday” targeted women of color to make them aware of their greater risk of breast-cancer mortality.
A recent study by Sinai Health Institute found that while Black and Latino women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, they are 40 percent more likely to die from the disease.
“It is unconscionable that women of color are dying from breast cancer at the same rate they were 20 years ago,” said Thompson, whose organization is one of the event sponsors. “We can do something to address this disparity and one of the first steps is greater awareness. Churches are good places to make contact with women in the African-American and Latino communities. They will listen to their peer-counselors who can make them more aware of the risks of ignoring breast health issues.”
The churches that participated in “Pin-a-Sister Sunday” are located across the metropolitan Chicago-area with congregations large and small. A number of prominent African-American and Latino women elected officials and celebrities supported the effort by attending church services and making special announcements.
Participating officials and celebrities included state senators Iris Martinez, Jacqueline Collins and Mattie Hunter; state representatives Connie Howard, Deborah Graham and former representative Robin Kelly; Alderman Leslie Hairston; former Cook County board President Bobbie Steele; West Side NAACP President Vera Davis; WVON President Melody Spann; and ABC-Ch. 7 Traffic Reporter Roz Varon, who is a breast cancer survivor.
“Pin-a-Sister Sunday” was a joint effort of ACCESS, the American Cancer Society and the State of Illinois’ Stand Against Cancer breast and cervical cancer prevention program. The Stand Against Cancer program provides state funding to federally qualified health centers run by ACCESS so that church-based health advocates can identify women to receive breast cancer screenings and follow-up care under the Medicaid program. The American Cancer Society provided the pink ribbons for the effort.
“We are so grateful to the churches for their willingness to participate in the vitally important awareness effort and so thankful to the State of Illinois for its on-going financial support for the Stand Against Cancer program,” said Thompson.”
ACCESS can be contacted at: 773/257-6770