October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an opportunity to learn more about breast cancer. Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among African American women and by far the most common cancer among all women, Black or white.
Sisters’ Night Out (SNO) an event in the community held to bring awareness to this fact was held traditionally the last Thursday in September and attended each year by over 200 plus sisters. SNO was not held in 2020, and due to the resurgent of the Delta variant SNO will not be held in 2021. Based on how COVID-19 has impacted us the format of gathering may become a thing of the past for the safety of the attendees.
COVID-19 has brought about many changes that have caused us to look at how we move forward. We have learned that the more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading. A good majority of our target population has a weakened immune system, and/or if they have cancer, they have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Although we will not meet in person, we can still continue sharing educational information on breast health with a focus on emphasizing the importance of early detection, treatment, and a sharing of resources in the community for the uninsured and underinsured.
We may not be able to meet as previously but we can still spread the word that early detection and treatment can save lives. We have found that among breast cancer survivors, the survival rates continue to climb due to better treatments and increased screening that finds cancers when they are most treatable. With women becoming more knowledgeable about warning signs, the importance of self-exams, treatment options and second opinions, they are better prepared than ever before to confront a breast cancer diagnosis.
How can you contribute to Breast Cancer Awareness?
• With your support, we can show every woman that her life is important; Spread the word about the importance of screenings; Learn more about the symptoms of breast cancer and how to detect them, and then share your knowledge with those around you; Let’s Work ToGetHer: By uniting as a community that recognizes the value of all women, we can work ToGetHer to make sure every woman has access to education, screening, treatment, and hope regardless of her circumstances.
During October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, take note of the available information, resources, and opportunities for Breast Cancer Screening that may be available in October and throughout the year. Also, schedule and receive your annual mammogram.
Most insurance companies (as well as Medicare) cover annual mammograms for women over 40 and companies cover mammograms for women over 30 years who are considered “high risk”, which can mean a personal or family history of breast cancer, BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, or other health issues.
For women without health insurance there is Every Women’s Life (EWL) a program of the Virginia Department of Health that helps uninsured, low-income women gain free access to life saving breast and cervical cancer screenings and services. Eligible women receive a clinical breast exam, mammogram, pelvic exam, Pap test, and any other related services required, all at no cost. If a woman enrolled in EWL is diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, she may be eligible for Medicaid to pay for treatment.
We would like to express our appreciation of the American Cancer Society for the support given SNO over the past nine years and also, to all sponsors and attendees who supported Sisters’ Night Out. Sisters, take care of you and stay safe!