"Sisters Conquering Cancer" Offers Support to Minorities
Sisters Conquering Cancer and the UVA Cancer Center are celebrating National Minority Cancer Awareness Week.
Health disparities are causing minorities to have higher rates of cancer than the general public, according to doctors at the University of Virginia.
Now a group in Charlottesville, led by a two-time breast cancer survivor, is trying to break the divide.
Ivy Hinton, 38, was an athletic woman who participated in rugby, karate and body building. So when she learned she had cancer, she wasn't afraid to tackle it head-on, by herself.
"I didn't know what I was facing but I handled it like a champ," said Hinton, the "Sisters Conquering Cancer" president. "I went through, had a lumpectomy and had radiation."
But then Hinton received a second diagnosis.
"I would say with the recurrence I was no champion. I felt devastated," she said. This time, she needed more support. So she joined a team of women - "Sisters Conquering Cancer".
"The classic example of the strong black woman is that you don't want to talk about the things that are going wrong, you don't want to talk about the things that make you frightened or scared or sad or angry," she said. "Here are women who knew what you were talking about. Strong black women who can sit down and say it's okay to be afraid."
Doctors say African-Americans are more likely to acquire and die of cancer than any other group.
"You look at things like socioeconomic status, education levels, poverty and things of this nature that limit a person's access to a primary care doctor," said Pamela Ross, chair of the Minority Recruitment Task Force for the UVA Cancer Center.
Doctors say people can lower their risk of cancer by eating healthy, sustaining from smoking, limiting stress and increasing exercise.
Hinton says, for her, the key was early detection and having someone to lean on.
"Get something done and get the support you need," she said. "If not Sisters Conquering Cancer, somebody! Get the support you need from somebody."
The UVA Cancer Center is hosting a gathering Friday at 2 p.m. in the Dining Hall Conference Room 3, as part of a continued effort to raise awareness about this issue.
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