Breast Cancer: Awareness, Advances and Challenges: Making an impact in our community
By Robina Smith, M.D.
Cancer accounts for nearly one-quarter of deaths in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women, and the leading cause of cancer deaths in young African American Women. In 2009, an estimated 194,000 new cases of breast cancer was diagnosed in women in the U.S., of those cases 19,540 were African American women. In general the number of new cases is about 10 percent lower in the African Americans than in Whites. However, the incidence of breast cancer is higher in White women over the age of 45, whereas in African American women the incidence is much higher under the age of 45 and the mortality is worse. For many types of cancer including breast cancer, survival rates in African Americans are 10% to more than 20% lower than in whites. This is due, in part, to African Americans being less likely to receive a cancer diagnosis at an early localized stage, when treatment can improve chances of survival, lack of access to medical treatment, under-representation in clinical trials, serious socioeconomic barriers that prevent receiving the latest, most specific treatment, variations in cancer types and lack of awareness.
Why is this you ask?
Dramatic disparities in the outcome of African American women and breast cancer is multifactorial. Young age (under 45) is the largest factor because the current screening guidelines are not sufficient in detecting breast cancer in the women between 33 and 40. By the time African American women turn 40, 10 percent of them will have already developed breast cancer. This leads into the second largest factor leading to worse outcomes, which is advanced stage at the time of diagnosis.
Timing is everything!
There is no question that early detection saves lives. A cure for breast cancer has not been found to date. Therefore, the difference between life and death is early detection. We can achieve cure in most breast cancers when identified in the earliest stages. There are five stages of breast cancer. Stage 0 is a special type, non-invasive, breast cancer called Ductal Carcinoma in SITU (DCIS). Stage 1-4 belongs to invasive or infiltrative breast cancer. Stage 1 & 2 are considered early potentially curable breast cancers. Stage 3 is locally advanced and Stage 4 is metastatic or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body with only 20% of these women alive in 5 years.
Advances and Challenges: Ask about Clinical Trials!
African American women are more likely to present with more aggressive forms of breast cancer, characterized by high tumor grade, hormone receptor -Estrogen/Progesterone negative, or Triple negative. There are striking similarities in the cancer types seen in African American women and sub-Saharan African women. Currently, efforts are underway to identify risk factors for breast cancer in African American women that could potentially lead to targeted screening and prevention practices that will change our statistics, prognosis and outcomes. This involves participation in clinical trials.
Clinical trials are research studies in which people help doctors find ways to improve health and cancer care. They find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer. Patients are reluctant to participate in clinical trials for fear of being a guinea pig. The truth is that during clinical trials patients often receive more comprehensive evaluation, better and longer follow up, reduced chance of cancer coming back, and improved cancer survival.
Education and Awareness is Crucial.
To make a difference and not let statistics tell our story, you need to be aware of the true risk of breast cancer, become active participate in your health care and help spread the word to educate others. There is a cultural misconception that breast cancer runs in the family. In fact, 90 percent of woman who are diagnosed with breast cancer are the only ones in their family to have it. The two biggest risk factors for breast cancer are 1) being a woman and having breasts, 2) getting older. African American women have a limited understanding of mammograms and their usefulness. Mammograms saves lives. You must be proactive including performing monthly self breast exams, yearly breast exams by a clinician and screening mammograms EVERY year starting at age 40, or earlier if there is a strong family history. Take head and spread the word.
Robina Smith, M.D. a highly trained breast surgeon who offers the latest techniques in Oncoplastic breast cancer surgery to help patients successfully fight breast cancer while improving and maintaining a normal breast shape and appearance. She completed a prestigious fellowship in breast surgery at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s leading Oncoplastic breast surgery programs. She is also Founder of Treasure-Your-Chest Inc (www.treasure-your-chest.com) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 1-888-492-4088.
Many of us, by our own admission, were defeated and without hope in this world until that glorious day we encountered the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ and my story reads the same. I did not have to be taught how to sin I merely had to be exposed to it. I was born with a predisposition to sin, and the more I was exposed to it the more I embraced it. I slept with women outside of marriage without any guilt or shame seeking only to satisfy the cravings of my flesh. I abused alcohol and drugs and I enjoyed it. I flooded my mind with pornography and evil thoughts because it was entertaining, and I adopted a world mentality because it was exciting. I have lied out of selfishness to avoid the consequences of my actions, and I have cheated because it was advantageous to me. I spent years living outside of the will of God because I thought His will was boring, but through it all, it was the love of God that saved me.
For any person that has ever been delivered, it is very easy to see it was Him that raised us up out of the bondage, allowed us to redeem the time, and caused us to have favor with men. He made the works of our hands to prosper, and renewed our hearts and minds. He is our savior, our redeemer, and our Lord. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh to God but by Him. His name is Jesus Christ. Surviving Christianity is all about re-discovering who Christ really is and making a firm commitment to be sold out and surrendered to Him.
The term “Christian” was first used in a place called Antioch to designate the followers of Jesus Christ. The message was simple “salvation through Him, and obedience to His word”. They believed in the truth of the gospel and its power to transform the lives of men. Some had witnessed first hand the life of Jesus Christ while others were won through their testimony. No longer was there a division between Jew and Gentile, rather; the term “Christian” united both groups in the faith, declaring Jesus was indeed the Christ, the anointed one of God.
It was commonly accepted that this title came with the responsibility to totally submit their lives to Him. It was not simply a verbal declaration, but rather a heart commitment to adopt the lifestyle of Christ and in no way bring reproach upon that worthy name by which they were called. That it may not be said of them which Alexander the Great said to a soldier of his own name who was noted for being a coward, “aut nomen, aut mores muta” – “Either change thy name or mend thy manners”. (Henry Matthew “Commentary on Acts II.” Blue Letter Bible.01 March 1996.)
That powerful statement is more relevant today than it has ever been. If we are not going to follow Jesus Christ, then we need to quit calling ourselves Christians. There are too many people today under the false impression the title is what saves them. Early Christians understood the title simply described the relationship they had with Jesus Christ. It was never meant to be a substitute for actually living the life.
The Christian experience is best described in the Bible as an enduring race that must be run with patience. In other words, the manner in which we, as professing Christians, run this race is the collective face we present to the world whether it is good or bad, credible or lacking credibility. For some people, Christianity has become nothing more than a placebo used to ease their guilt in order that they may have a good conscious towards God. They have no real desire to surrender to God, but by the same token, they are too afraid to just admit they are Godless. This thinking has led to a new definition of Christianity that is very vague and all encompassing, having no boundaries or guidelines, and which is often not even Biblically based. It has become a title that is inclusive of every lifestyle as opposed to a lifestyle defined by a title. We must once again stand firm in our belief Christianity is not a religion based on group conformity or a distorted perception of God’s love. It is not validated by the beliefs of men, strengthened by opinion polls, or based on consensus, rather; we live by the belief the Bible is an undisputed truth best stated in Matthew 24:35
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
“Surviving Christianity” illustrates the challenges we face as followers of Jesus Christ when it comes to conforming to the societal definition of Christianity versus staying true to the Biblical definition. We live in a world which seemingly refutes the very life of Jesus Christ, and Christianity, in its true form, is under attack. While the battle rages from the outside and within, many are not even aware we are in a war. It is a war against the middle, the luke warm, and playing on both sides of the fence. It’s the place where satan dwells under the cover of religion, false doctrine, half heartedness, and carnality.
He is regarded as a man of prayer because of his inspirational and awesome Battle Ready Prayer CD which is being circulated throughout the world.
He is also the author Grace Is Not A Rocking Chair and Why God Kept Saving Me. His latest book Surviving Christianity is powerful and a must have!
Aaron Hopson is the co-partner of Gems From Joy Publications and the Executive Director of Gems From Joy Ministries. You can learn more about Aaron or purchase his material by going to http://gemsforjoy.com or check click on one his images on this page!
I was the son of a Pastor. It was almost like I was birthed into the church. Since I was a young boy I knew Christ. By the age of 10, I was crying out to the Lord and filled with his spirit. I saw visions of a platform and myself reaching millions for the glory of God. I didn’t know exactly how it would happen, but I knew it would happen. All I wanted in this life was to fulfill that which God had placed in my heart, but low and behold the devil had other plans.
Over time, I became consumed with women; everything about a woman pleased me. The danger of indulging in a woman comes when you haven’t discovered who you are as a man. It’s dangerous when you indulge before you’ve become a complete individual- secure, confident, passionate, loving, caring, and genuinely. I found myself lost in this woman around the age of 20, and sure enough she was lost too. You see, we are often drawn to a reflection of ourselves even though we may not know it. Here we were two lost individuals looking for love in all the wrong places and all the wrong faces. Hoping and believing that we could be completed by being needed by someone else.
It’s at that time that I began to want to be that woman’s all, and when I realized I wasn’t, it pushed me to the edge. Forgetting what I was taught in Christ, forsaking my upbringing, I was like the prodigal son. When that woman didn’t please me, I took out my self-hatred on her. Any and every time she stepped out of “my line,” I beat her. When I say beat, I mean beat! Not just pushing, but punching, slapping, pulling and slinging by her hair, and kicking. It was for real. The sad part of it was that neither of us knew this demons origin. Neither of us knew that this battle was not one of flesh and blood, but of spirits and principalities. Neither of us knew that this was the devil trying to mussel the mouth of our gifts. The devil used one demon in me to beat the spirit in her, and gave her a spirit that craved the spirit in me. This was spiritual warfare, but neither of us waged war with the sword of the Holy Spirit. Instead we fought in the flesh. So we labored in vain- hating, and provoking one another, not realizing that we were only killing one another spiritually and physically.
The devil almost had me take my life, trying to gain control over a human being that I hadn’t paid a price for, and neither had he. You see, we were both bought with a price, but neither of us knew it. But there came a day where the Lord began to tug on my heart. He began to pull on my spirit and spoke softly into my being; He breathed life in me like brand new. He put disgust in my heart for domestic violence, physical, and verbal abuse. He arranged it to where every time I wanted to act out in rage, it would wear me out so that I was physically and emotionally drained. It would bring me to my knees. There came a day, after going through a series of events that God allowed the devil to knock me flat on my back. But God spoke into my spirit and said “My son, if you can look up, then you can get up”. Then with the strength of God, I rose to my feet and I vowed that the devil would not defeat me. No more would he beat me and bruise me mentally, emotionally or physically. I declared independence over my life and I took the reign back!
God birthed in me a fire and a desire to go back through the Earth and reclaim lives. It was a desire to restore self-worth, self-respect, and dignity. He charged me with a duty that I must carry out, and that is to reach and teach every soul I can in the time I have left. Lord, I asked “how will it all start out?” He said “fist you must be sacrificed, and then I’ll give you life”. My God, sent me as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show to do what many men wouldn’t dare do, and that is tell my story of abuse. I confessed to people that had never heard that story before, including my mother and father, friends, family, teachers, and co-workers. I sacrificed it all for the CALL. God told me that in order to be a servant, you must first be willing to sacrifice it all, be brought all the way down, and then, only then will I build you back up!
I visited Oprah’s live set was March 19th, 2009 and directly after He sent me on the Tyra Banks show as a Guest Expert speaking into the lives of millions once again. And I know this is only the beginning, he is still opening doors.
You see, when you give God the reign over your life and you embrace your past and are willing to sacrifice your story for his Glory, amazing things happen. God doesn’t want a closet Christian; He doesn’t want a “perfect” soul. He isn’t waiting for you to get it all together, because if we could get it all together on our own, then there wouldn’t be a place for Him. God says bring Me your burden, cast your cares on Me and I’ll give you rest. That rest doesn’t mean you’ll be lying still, but that rest means that you’ll have the strength you need to run this race. Walk by faith! Stand the trials! Be tested and do not waiver. Walk and not faint. Go forth my brother and sister for God is with you!
He is waiting on you! “Let your story, bring him Glory!”
Tony Gaskins, Jr.
About the Author: Tony A. Gaskins, Jr. is an Author/Motivational Speaker/Consultant/Screenwriter/Ghostwriter/Producer and Founder of Soul Writers, LLC. He is filling a void and speaking on issues not only young men his age, but men in general are afraid to speak on. Tony travels to speak at schools of all levels, churches, battered women shelters, rehab centers and the list goes on. There aren’t 4 walls that this young man won’t enter to share his story and inspire others to do the same. You can learn more about Mr. Gaskins by visiting his webpage and/or purchasing his books, What Daddy Should Have Told His Little Girl and Reclaiming Our Youth One Day At A Time at http://whatdaddynevertold.com or http://reclaimtheyouth.com.