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“Not just the Pink Ribbon”: What we want people who work all year round to know about breast cancer




Many breast cancer support groups serve the Milwaukee community, including those that target specific demographics. (Stock photo)

Kathryn Walker learned the meaning of feeling lonely when she was told she had breast cancer at the age of 28.

Despite the support of her family and friends, she felt that few people were involved in her struggle to be the youngest at the cancer center. She had questions and concerns about having cancer, but no one felt she could rely on.

When she reaches out After breast cancer diagnosis, A Milwaukee-based breast cancer support group, was able to find a solution. Specifically, it is a person. She was paired with a breast cancer survivor who had her diagnosis at the same age as her mentor. Five years later, she is now a mentor herself.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but those who support survivors and those who fight cancer know that fighting cancer is a daily effort.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) was founded in 1992 by Milwaukee Broadcasting Journalist Melodie Wilson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ellen Friebert Schupper, executive director of the group, said Wilson had aerial discussions about her diagnosis. time.

“She noticed this lack of emotional support for people with breast cancer,” said Freebert Supper.

Wilson, who died in 2009, led a campaign to raise public awareness for 17 years.

According to Freebert Supper, the organization has about 750 mentors nationwide.

“Sometimes you just need the people there to verify what you are experiencing,” Walker said.

The struggle does not end even if the cancer is defeated. Walker said survivors could require as much mentorship as they did during the fight.

“People now think you can resume where your life paused,” Walker said. “In fact, this changed who I am and who I am. It changed the structure of my life and my priorities. Harmony with what you have just experienced. It’s hard to do. “

Increased detection

Many early cases are no longer detected because fewer women get mammograms during the pandemic, Freebert Supper said.

Mayhoua Moua, Managing Director Milwaukee Consortium for Hmong HealthBreast cancer, said, is one of the most deadly illnesses facing her community for that very reason.

Her organization offers screening for cervical and breast cancer. Both of these have disproportionate mortality rates among Hmong women.

“For my people, when I hear the word’cancer’, it’s a death sentence,” Moore said.

According to Moua, many clients are not screened until they begin to experience physical symptoms, which is often too late. Many of the consortium’s efforts focus on education on the benefits of early detection.

“We’re trying to tell them that cancer isn’t like a headache or abdominal pain,” Moore said. “You don’t feel it until it’s already in the late stages.”

Carol Cameron, Program Manager Wisconsin Tribal Pink Shawl Louis InitiativeA non-profit organization focused on breast cancer awareness for Native American women said similar problems existed in indigenous communities. When she first started, she remembered some people who dismissed breast cancer as a “white woman’s illness.”

Cameron said her organization is addressing this issue by presenting it through a cultural lens. For example, the group promoted the name by attending Native American cultural events such as Pow Wow, wearing bright pink shawls and performing traditional dances.

“Cancer does not discriminate,” Cameron said, so there is a great need for resources in the color community.

Work towards fairness

Lakesha York, admin Wisconsin Breast Cancer UnionHer organization, a Milwaukee-based public policy and advocacy group, said she was trying to facilitate conversations on racial equality.

Black women have a higher mortality rate than white women in Wisconsin When Diagnosed late in cancer on average, According to reports from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Medical Society.

The Union trains people to advocate changes in breast cancer policy. We also hold briefing sessions. For example, a session called “Breast Cancer and the Environment” details household items that can increase your risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer survivors and federation executive secretary Lindsey O’Connor said breast cancer persistence has made breast cancer an issue that needs to be addressed in the long run.

“It’s not just the Pink Ribbon,” O’Connor said. “It’s not just consciousness. It’s a disease that can recur. I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Resources you need to know

Wisconsin Well Woman Program We provide screening services to uninsured or uninsured women. For more information on how to apply, please call 414-286-2133.

For contact information after breast cancer diagnosis for mentorship services, please call 414-977-1780.

The Milwaukee Consortium of Hmong Health can be accessed at 414-212-8087.

The Wisconsin Breast Cancer Association can be reached at 414-963-2103.

The Wisconsin Pink Shawl Initiative website has a contact form, Facebook page..They can be reached at [email protected]..




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