Embrace: More Than a Checked Box

June 11, 2024

 Are you listening to us? Seeing us? Including us? Addressing our needs?

We heard you say those words no one wants to hear, “You have breast cancer. “We heard you say a lot about the treatment plan and our new normal. Can we take a moment to tell you about us, about our lives, and who we are beyond our cancer diagnosis?

As women, we sometimes are faced with pervasive gender stereotypes and feel unheard. We are entuned with our bodies and sometimes know when things are not quite right but despite our pleas, we are often labeled as “dramatic” or “emotionally expressive.” Don’t just hear, listen to us.

Breast cancer is a serious issue regardless of race, but it disproportionately affects black women who are 40% more likely to die from the disease than white women. Not only do we often feel unheard we also feel unseen, invisible if you will. Open your eyes and mind to see us.

 As women and individuals inthe LGBTQ+ community, we sometimes feel excluded. When members of the LGBTQ+ communityare diagnosed with breast cancer, we experience delays in diagnosis. As such we are three times more likely to have a breast cancer recurrence than people who are heterosexual and/or cisgender. Listen, see, and include us.

As women in the United States residing in rural areas, we face significant challenges related to breast cancer care. This is largely due to rural women being diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage than women residing in urban areas. Listen, see, include, and acknowledge our healthcare barriers.

Women with disabilities experience disparities in routine screenings such as mammograms. Our pre-existing disabilities are associated with a higher likelihood of breast and cervical cancer diagnoses, raising the urgency of eliminating disability disparities in mammography and pap testing. It's important to listen, see, include, acknowledge, and be equitable.

What specific actions can healthcare providers take to address the disparities faced by different groups of women in breast cancer care? How can healthcare systems ensure that women from diverse backgrounds feel they are listened to, seen, and included in their breast cancer treatment and care? What measures can be implemented to improve access to routine screenings and healthcare services for women with disabilities? Every woman is uniquely different. Listen to us. See our diversity. Be inclusive. Be equitable. We are more than a checked cancer box.



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Williamsburg, VA 23185
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