"Women of Promise" to Get More Women Screened for Cancer
WASHINGTON – As Carla Williams thinks back, she believes that it was an experience
in her own family that unconsciously became the impetus for "Women of Promise,"
a community ambassador program to get more women screened for breast cancer
starting this month.
Not long ago, an aunt had detected a lump in her breast, but didn’t do anything
about it or even tell family members.
"We still to this day don’t know why she didn’t go to a doctor when she saw
the lump," said Williams, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and assistant professor
of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Howard University College of Medicine
and Howard University Hospital.
"Maybe it was not being able to face the possibility of cancer. We think
she just hoped it was something else and hoped it would go away."
But it wasn’t, and it didn’t. Finally, one of the aunt’s children detected
something was wrong and took her to the doctor.
"She had a mastectomy and survived for two years, but eventually she succumbed
to the cancer," Williams said. "If she had done something about it sooner,
she might still be here."
Williams hopes Women of Promise, a program funded
by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and based in the Howard University Cancer
Center, will change such behavior, a behavior that she said is still prevalent
among too many African-American in the Washington area.
The program kicks off at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 22, in Freedmen’s Hall at Howard
University. Andrea Roane, WUSA 9 weekday anchor and a Rebecca Lipkin
Honoree for Media Distinction by the Susan G. Komen For the Cure for her coverage
of issues related to breast cancer, has been named the Honorary Women of Promise
Ambassador and will moderate the event.
Women of Promise seeks 200 women to act as ambassadors to talk with women
across the District, but particularly in Wards 7 and 8, about the importance
of early screening and mammograms. The ambassadors will stress the American
Cancer Society guidelines for women over 40 to have mammograms annually.
The ambassadors will be looking particularly for women who haven’t been screened
in the past two years, Williams said. And after identifying those women, they
will follow up to make sure the women have mammograms done, Williams said.
The ambassadors also will tell women about the District’s safety net for
breast cancer treatment. For example, women who earn up to 250 percent of
the poverty level can have a mammogram done free at participating hospitals,
Additionally, the ambassadors will inform women about other free and low
cost mammography programs such as the Rosemary Williams Mammoday program at
the Howard University Cancer Center. The goal of the two-year program is to
reach over 2,800 women, Williams said.
Early detection is the key when it comes to breast cancer, Williams said.
"Unfortunately, in D.C., black women are more likely to present at a more
advanced stage of breast cancer compared to white women," she said. "Catching
it sooner will help women have a better outcome, a better chance of survival."
To apply to be an ambassador with Women of Promise or to find out more about
the program, call 202-806-5721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.