Health & Wellness Spotlight on Karen Eubanks Jackson and Sister’s Network®, Inc. for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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By d-mars.com News Provider

wp_hjcover4Karen Eubanks Jackson is the Founder and CEO of Sister’s Network®, Inc. (SNI).  She has been recognized nationally as a true visionary and leader in the African American breast cancer movement.  SNI is the nation’s only African American breast cancer survivorship organization. Jackson continues to lead SNI’s nationwide effort to focus the spotlight on increasing breast cancer awareness in the African American community. The organization provides standardized national educational outreach programs, survivor and family support, empowerment, hope and financial assistance to thousands of women annually through its national network of more than 40 survivor-run affiliate chapters located in more than 20 states.

In 1994, Jackson founded SNI during her personal fight to survive breast cancer. Jackson recognized a lack of “sisterhood” in traditional organizations, and there was a staggering breast cancer mortality rate for African American women and limited culturally sensitive material. Often referred to as a breast cancer champion, Jackson’s primary motivation was to break through the silence and shame of breast cancer that immobilizes African American women, restricts their ability to receive support services, interferes with early detection and ultimately affects their survival rates.
wp_hjcover3Under her leadership and vision, the organization has developed numerous national breast health outreach initiatives including, but not limited to, hosting the Stop the Silence Walk and Teens4Pink.  Since the organization’s inception, SNI has provided over $1 million in conference scholarships to help train African American breast cancer survivors to be advocate leaders in their communities.

Understanding the historical difficulty in the African American community to discuss cancer and other health concerns, Jackson created a national slogan and branding campaign: STOP THE SILENCE, to encourage African Americans to discuss their family health and history.

A recognized and highly sought after breast cancer expert, Jackson is frequently invited to speak on the international and national stage and share her perspective on the state of breast cancer in the African American community. She has been a featured speaker at the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center in Germany, the National Congressional Black Caucus and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as other organizations. Jackson has been featured in numerous national newspapers, magazines, television, radio programs and Internet media outlets, inclusive of the Huffington Report, Essence, New York Times, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Ebony, Web MD, Black Enterprise, Breast Cancer Wellness, Tom Joyner Morning Show and numerous local media outlets. Jackson is a published co-author of several works.  Additionally, Jackson’s breast health advocacy work has garnered numerous awards and recognitions.

wp_hjcover1Black Women & Breast Cancer

Breast cancer tends to appear in Black women at a younger age and in more advanced forms. In fact, Black women are two times more likely to develop triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease which has fewer effective treatment options. Triple-negative breast cancers tend to grow and spread more quickly than most other types of breast cancer. We also are known to have denser breast, one of the strongest predictors of risk for breast cancer and also is a known factor limiting the sensitivity of a screening mammogram.  Mammograms of breasts with higher density have been described as harder to read and interpret than those of less dense breasts.  A small cancer can be concealed by dense breast tissue or by the overlap of normal breast structures.

Many women with early breast cancer have no symptoms.  That is why it is so crucial to get screened before symptoms have a chance to appear.   However, the most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. For this reason, it is important that you have any new breast mass or lump checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.

Other signs may include:

  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Pain in the breast or nipple
  • Thickening of the nipple or breast
  • Discharge other than breast milk

What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?

Lifestyle changes have been shown in studies to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. The following are steps you can take to lower your risk:

Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation — based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk — is to limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day as even small amounts increase risk.

Don’t smoke. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.

Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.

Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.

Breast-feed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.

Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You might be able to manage your symptoms with nonhormonal therapies and medications. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you and continue to have your doctor monitor the length of time you are taking hormones.

Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and radiation exposure. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.

wp_hjcover2Being that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, if you have been putting off that yearly mammogram and yearly health screening, this is the perfect time to take charge of your health.  It is especially important that women in our community get checked.  A leader, visionary and most importantly, a breast cancer survivor, Jackson continues to make a difference and raise awareness on this disease impacting African American women.  For more on Sister’s Network®, Inc. and their 2017 Stop the Silence® Walk, please visit www.sistersnetworkinc.org.

Sources: www.mayoclinic.org | www.bwhi.org

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