RiRi's New Campaign Features Black Survivors
- Rihanna’s latest campaign for her lingerie line from Savage X Fenty is giving a voice to underrepresented women.
- October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the ad campaign features some incredible breast cancer survivors.
- Annually, approximately 276,480 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society; Black women in the U.S. experience higher mortality rates from breast cancer than white women.
“I went topless at a pretty prominent music festival in the middle of Brooklyn where there was lots of Black queer young people,” said Hart. “I wasn’t with any sort of sign and I didn’t write anything on my back– I didn’t say check your breasts loudly. I just stood there, and people started taking pictures. And now I just continue to use that platform to educate about black bodies and how we regard black bodies in the medical system–in the world.”
Ericka Speaks with SurvivorNet
Ericka Hart was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer at 28. At the time of her diagnosis, Hart was living in Brooklyn and engaged to married.
In an interview with SurvivorNet, Hart said, “Breast cancer can happen to anybody, so you want to be seen in advocacy campaigns. If you look at a lot of breast cancer advocacy campaigns, they’re mostly white, middle class, house in the suburbs, five kids – and when I was diagnosed I was broke living in Brooklyn about to get married to a woman.”
In addition to the lack of representation, Hart also noted the gross disparity in cancer care and prognosis for Black people in America versus white people in America. “Black people die from breast cancer at faster rates than white people,” said Hart, “and that has nothing to do with black people and a gene or anything like that. It has everything to do with us not existing in advocacy programs.”
Hart pointed to lighter topics, too, that accompany the breast cancer journey – such as sex. She told SurvivorNet, “If you are diagnosed, and you’re thinking you’re never going to have sex again, think again. Sure there will be days where you won’t feel up for it, but that doesn’t mean your sex life is over.”
Racial Disparities in Cancer Care
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), approximately 276,480 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. And it is known that Black women can experience delays in cancer diagnosis, treatment – and thus, have a worse prognosis than their white counterparts.
Dr. Anita Johnson told SurvivorNet that access is key, it comes to closing the gap in racial disparities for cancer treatment. “The mortality rates for African-American women are substantially higher than Caucasian women,” says Dr. Johnson. Hart’s diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer often presents in African-American women. Dr. Johnson notes that this cancer, “is a more aggressive type of breast cancer which always requires chemotherapy and has a higher recurrence rate.”
In Atlanta, where Dr. Johnson practices, there are some of the highest death rates from breast cancer in the U.S., she says. “And so when we look at different metropolitan areas where there are more black women, but still, they’re not being screened adequately.”
The key to closing this divide says Dr. Johnson, is access to better care and screening for everyone. Additionally, reviewing a patient’s family history is critical, as is access to clinical trials.