In the last twelve months, I’ve had three biopsies: breast, cervical, and uterine (bye, fellas, catch ya on the next post!). The breast biopsy turned into a lumpectomy, but all was well, and all it cost me was about 25% of my breast tissue. Then came the cervical cancer biopsy—I’ll let you feel sorry for me for a minute cause YES it was as traumatic as you can imagine. Results: negative, woohoo! Then just last week, after having some menstrual problems for a few months, I had a uterine ultrasound and biopsy. It was a rotten afternoon but again: negative results, whew!

What was amazing to me is that I sensed a problem, called my doctor, got an appointment, had the biopsies and the results—in each case, all within a week. Health insurance is great, right? It turns out, not so great for a lot of people. As I was doing the typical “google the diagnosis before you have the diagnosis” (which I do NOT recommend by the way), I came upon some scary statistics.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that Black women are four times more likely to die from uterine cancer than white women. Their five-year survival rate is 62% compared to 84% for white women.1

 I got curious, so I looked up my previous two scares: no surprise, similar outcomes.

For breast cancer, fewer Black women get breast cancer (incidence), but they die in higher numbers: 40% HIGHER. This is due in part to the fact that they are more likely to get triple-negative breast cancer, but also because they tend to be diagnosed in later stages.2

 And for cervical cancer, something many of our daughters and sons are vaccinated against now (the hpv virus), the statistics are sobering.

The five-year survival rate of white women with cervical cancer is 71%, and for Black women it’s 58%. The NIH notes: “Race remains an independent predictor of cervical cancer survival after accounting for age, stage, treatment patterns, and other factors.3

 Race. Race puts you at greater risk to die from reproductive cancers. My Black sisters are more likely to die than me for the same cancers. And it’s not just more negative outcomes with cancer; it’s hypertension, maternal and fetal death, even COVID19.

This. Is. Unexcusable.

Like all of you, I’ve been drawn into all of the latest discussions around racial inequality. I’ve been trying to figure out how I can do my part to help make the world a better, safer place for Black folks and this latest brush with cancer lit a fire under me. I’m not a doctor, health care provider, or cancer researcher. But, I can be a community activist. I started doing some poking around for opportunities, and there are a ton out there. Here’s a few things I’m doing this week:

Educate: I’m taking a webinar put on by the Black Women’s Health Imperative and signing up for newsletters and updates from those kinds of organizations. Follow

 Donate: Organizations dedicated to researching and improving the health of Black women, poor women, and all women of color need money. It’s as simple as writing a check.

 Volunteer: I’m on the lookout for ways I can volunteer in my community. This is still in the beginning stages, but if I have to knock on doors and pass out flyers, that’s what I’ll do.

 Women’s reproductive health is essential. It can’t be delayed, underfunded, brushed aside. Reproductive cancers are often very treatable when caught early. If I can notice a problem, get in and get tested, and have results within a week, then so should EVERY woman. Race should not be an independent predictor of survival…ever. I don’t have the answers, but I have curiosity and anger—and I’m going to put them to good use.