I want to talk about something that hits home for me. I want to discuss cancer. I don’t have it but it is someone very close to me. I won’t say who to protect her privacy, but she knows I love her dearly.
The situation is that this 35 year old Black Hispanic woman is about to have surgery to remove a tumor. The tumor is 14cm large. Not one doctor noticed this until very recently. The odds of malignancy are high, sadly. To say this is unacceptable is an understatement.
I have read that African American women, under 50, are less likely to have ovarian cancer. It’s not nearly as prevalent as in White women. I must assume that this causes doctors to not look for it, especially in those that are younger. Thus when it is looked at, we see larger tumors and further progression of the disease once detected. This is a major factor in that African American women have an exceedingly higher mortality rate than any other group. I have a lot of trouble accepting this.
But this is not an isolated case. I am aware of another woman, older but not 50 at the time and also Black that also had a tumor that was suddenly found. Luckily it was benign, though that does not excuse how a tumor the size of a lemon was not noticed for years. Obviously this is increasing my concern for my sisters and friends. Tumors should not be ‘suddenly’ found after years of growth at sizes ranging from a small fruit to that of a grapefruit. It’s not an oversight; it’s insulting and potentially deadly.
This doesn’t just happen in Black women though. I have known of the father of 2 close friends that died of colon cancer, also detected very late in life. In the case of one it was an African American man, younger and diagnosed in a more advanced stage. There is no reason for this.
I keep saying there is not reason, and let me clarify. In the cases of the African Americans let me describe the backgrounds. None are drinkers. 2 don’t drink at all, one rarely. One is a former smoker that quit about 22 years ago. None take drugs. One was a former war veteran that remained in excellent shape, another also served in the military. In each case these are people that live regular lives with at least better than average health other than the cancer. All of them have had professional careers. One, at least, has a Masters Degree.
I say all this because it shouldn’t be a sudden discovery. None of these tumors just appeared overnight. Each of these people should have had some one notice the tumors before they became so advanced. The anger this creates in me is more than I can explain.
Continued in Part 2…