Remembering a Trailblazer: Gwen Ifil
- Journalist Gwen Ifill was the first Black woman to host a nationally televised U.S. public affairs program, and she passed in 2016 at age 61 after a battle with breast and endometrial cancer.
- Breast cancer is detected via mammogram; women aged 45 to 54 with an average risk of breast cancer should screen annually for this disease.
- Endometrial cancer is sometimes called “uterine cancer” and it’s a type of cancer that starts in the uterus. Treatments for this disease include surgery to remove the uterus, radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy.
Throughout her career, the Queens native could be found working in esteemed newspaper newsrooms across the country, including at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Baltimore Evening Sun. She also worked as a broadcast journalist, anchoring for PBS Newshour and Washington Week.
Ifill was the author of the bestselling book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, which she wrote prior to President Obama’s election.
She was also the first Black woman to moderate a U.S. vice presidential debate, a task which she carried out twice – in 2004 and 2008.
Just days after Ifill passed, President Barack Obama remarked on her legacy. “Whether she reported from the convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or the anchor’s desk, she not only informed today’s citizens, she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists,” Obama said. “She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect, and for whom she blazed a trail as one half of the first all-female network anchor team on network news.”
Breast Cancer Treatments & Detection
Ifill battled both breast cancer and endometrial cancer, and she passed away surrounded by friends and family in hospice care in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 2016.
When it comes to breast cancer, mammograms save lives. Early detection is critically important and it can mean broader treatment options as well. Women ages 45 to 54 with an average risk of breast cancer should get mammograms annually.
For women with an elevated risk of breast cancer – this means they either have a history of breast cancer in the family, or they have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation – they should begin screening even earlier, before age 45.
While getting a mammogram, ask about dense breasts, which may obscure cancer. The technician will be able to do determine whether or not you have dense breasts.
What is Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer is sometimes called “uterine cancer” and it’s a type of cancer that starts in the uterus. Treatments for this disease include surgery to remove the uterus, radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.
Endometrial cancer occurs when cancer cells develop in the lining of a person’s uterus. This year, approximately 66,570 people will be diagnosed with this type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
In an earlier interview, Stanford Gynecologic Oncologist Dr. Diana English explains there are several conditions that may predispose someone to getting uterine cancer. “These patients might not be thinking about this, their primary care providers may not be speaking to them about this,” says Dr. English. Those conditions are:
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (which is marked by the absence of regular periods)
- Hyperandrogenism (elevated male sex hormones)
- Lynch Syndrome