Did you know that more African-American and Hispanic women die from breast cancer than white women, even though more white women are diagnosed with the disease? According to the American Cancer Society, about one in eight U.S. women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer in their lifetime — over 260,000 women will be diagnosed with new cases in 2018 alone.
Serving the Chicago area’s most underserved communities of color for nearly three decades, Access Community Health Network (ACCESS) is well aware of these statistics and other disparities that affect our patient population.
To address these statistics, in 2007 ACCESS started its hallmark, faith-based, breast cancer outreach and awareness campaign called Pin-A-Sister™/Examínate Comadre™. This initiative is aimed at reducing health disparities and decreasing the number of African-American and Hispanic women who develop breast cancer, educating women of color about the importance of getting regular mammograms and encouraging them to take action and take control of their health.
The program urges places of worship and other community organizations to host educational pink ribbon-pinning ceremonies, where women place pink ribbons on each other and commit to scheduling a mammogram, as well as telling others to do the same. The gatherings recognize breast cancer survivors; allow them to briefly share their testimonies; encourage women to get mammograms and provide a visual presentation of this commitment. The program has helped to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and disparities regarding women of color and their ability to get a mammogram.
Recognizing that the church plays a vital role in the lives of African-Americans and Hispanics, this faith-based program is an ideal channel for getting the message out. “We look up to our religious and spiritual leaders, so women, when they hear their pastor talking about it, of course they’re going to go and get a mammogram,” said longtime program supporter and 35-year breast cancer survivor Deaconess Lillouise Lewis of New Friendship M.B. Church.
Celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, the campaign’s awareness and outreach efforts have reached an estimated four million people since 2007. By working with our faith communities, social service agencies, hospitals and community partners, ACCESS has also been able to conduct more than 175,000 screenings, which identified 465 cancers and pre-cancers.
Churches and other community organizations can register to participate on or around Mother’s Day or any other day throughout the year. To register, call 1-312-526-2256 or email Maria Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Access Community Health Network
Designated as a Level 3 patient-centered medical home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), ACCESS offers patient-centered, preventive and primary care services to more than 183,000 patients annually. Through its investment in technology to further improve patient care and engagement, ACCESS has also been recognized by HIMMS at Stage 6 for its adoption of its electronic health record. With 36 Joint Commission-accredited community health centers located throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, ACCESS is also one of the largest networks of community health centers in the nation. For more information, visit www.achn.net.