Black women are being diagnosed with breast cancer and dying of the disease at much younger ages nowadays.
According to the American Cancer Society, black women are still dying from breast cancer at a higher rate than any other female demographic in the United States. Not only that, the number of new breast cancer cases among black women is two times higher than white women at the same age of 35 and younger.
A young black woman named Shelly Barnes recently spoke with Roland Martin of New One about her ordeal as a two-time breast cancer survivor. Barnes told Martin that she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 25.
However, she had trouble getting her doctor to realize what was going on because Barnes wasn’t old enough to raise any real concerns.
“Prior to diagnosis, Barnes and her physician ruled out breast cancer because of her age. Barnes’ diagnosis was shocking because women typically are not diagnosed with the disease at such an early stage in life,” wrote a News One digital contributor about Martin’s interview with Barnes.
The disbelief and denial among physicians that goes on when younger black women are experiencing early symptoms of breast cancer is one of the main reasons why they are not being diagnosed and treated properly, which is what ultimately leads to an early death.
Barnes gave some words of advice for younger black women who are looking for a proactive approach to identifying and preventing breast cancer.
“As it relates to young African-American women going for mammograms, Barnes explained women should ‘push their doctors’ and not be afraid to challenge them about your health,” a News One digital contributor also wrote.
Barnes also mentioned to Martin that black women must use their collective voices to raise awareness.
“[I welcome] opportunities to speak out and to show people that breast cancer doesn’t have one face…there are all types of people diagnosed with this,” Barnes told Martin.