There is a new initiative in town and it’s dedicated to Black women.
Susan G. Komen and the Ad Council launched Know Your Girls, a campaign, anchored at KnowYourGirls.org, that will help Black women better understand their risk and take charge of their breast health. Know Your Girls encourages women to treat their breasts (ie, their “girls”) with an abundance of love and attentiveness and then share details with the women in their lives.
TheGrio chatted with ambassadors Shyrea Thompson (Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives at Susan G. Komen) and Dr. Lori Wilson (an oncology surgeon and breast cancer survivor) about the influence of the campaign and the importance of taking preventive action to save your life.
“[The] goal [of the campaign] is to empower and enrich Black women and give them the tools and all of the things that they need to really take charge of their breast health,” explains Dr. Wilson. Knowyourgirls.org is the website but there is also social media that surrounds that. It’s a safe place for black women to go to and get support from the social media standpoint.”
Hi, there! Welcome to Know Your Girls, a new space committed to elevating the convo on black women’s breast health. We’re for us, by us, and we’re serious about our collective health. The stats about breast cancer in our communities are alarming, and many of us have been personally affected. We’re done being afraid; we’re taking action. We’re invested in wellness, drenched in coconut oil and sprinkled with #blackgirlmagic #KnowYourGirls #blackwomenshealth
“It’s a great place to go to the website to get information and its really about not just having the information but using that information to take action, to take charge of your health,” she continues. “Once you know then you have the tools to find out a bit more about it and then it helps to support a well informed discussion that you should have with your healthcare provider and doctor to make sure that you’re getting that individualized care that’s specific to you.”
Thompson believes that the beautiful images and visuals of the campaign will encourage Black women to participate and could not have been possible without funding from a formidable supporter.
“From the support of the Fund II foundation, which is founded by Robert Smith, the Black billionaire—who many have heard his story—[and] his commitment to investing in our community.”
“It opened up opportunities for us to bring on the bright work of Translation which is founded by Steve Stoute and the work of A.V. Rockwell, who is the director and an upcoming black young director, and Alicia Keys with her voice and Vanessa Bell Calloway. who is also a survivor. The actresses on set also had their own types of ties to breast cancer, so it’s just this really incredible journey to see how our community at different steps brought their talent and resources to bring this to life.”
According to Susan G Komen, Black women in America are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than White women, and in cities like Memphis, that number is as high as 74 percent. Dr. Wilson also touched on how Black women are diagnosed with a more aggressive disease, later stages and often times diagnosed younger than their white counterparts, which is why it’s important to spread awareness and urge Black women to get checked.
“We know that breast health is important to Black women but do we talk about it? Do we take action?” says Wilson. “Often times we advocate and do everything for everyone else and not ourselves. So, it’s not that we don’t know or often times that we don’t believe but there are many things that may stand in the way because of who we are and what we do.”
“Know Your Girls, is a place to begin things that are important to us at a risk standpoint,” continues Wilson. “[It’s also important] to talk about your mom and dad health history. Really knowing your history is a big part of it and then knowing things about the colors, the feels, textures, that is your normal. Everybody’s breast is different.”
As the Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives at Susan G. Komen, Thompson warns women that breast cancer isn’t always detected by feeling a lump or the presence of bleeding nipples. The best thing is to have an honest conversation with your physician about whatever changes that are happening to your body.
“We have to be our own advocate because people are not always hear to make it easy, sometimes health insurance is tough and that’s why the site has resources on how to be your best advocate and it also has information on insurance and having tough conversation with doctors,” said Thompson.