For the Breast of Us (FTBOU) is an organization that has taken up the battle against breast cancer in unorthodox and important ways.
They will host their inaugural sneaker ball, “We Run This Gala,” during Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Oct. 15, 2022, in Houston, Texas. The gala provides a platform where breast cancer survivors and thrivers are celebrated nationwide, along with those advocating and educating our community and those no longer with us. To purchase tickets, visit here.
This gala is another creative idea from the organization aiming to mobilize support in the fight against breast cancer, connecting their favorite wear — sneakers — with their favorite elegance, according to a press release.
Statistics show that one in eight women of color will be diagnosed with breast cancer; also, Black women are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, according to cancer.org. All information on disparities in the fight against breast cancer shows traumatic results for women of color.
For the Breast of Us (FTBOU) has found necessary and creative ways to execute the mission. Founder and CEO, Marissa Thomas, has created not just a community but an online community in various spaces, from the breastofus.com website to a private yet robust Facebook group, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thomas, a survivor, and thriver, is uniquely positioned for this journey. She was a health professional who is now in technology. She “was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35.” Thomas saw the need and started the organization “because there aren’t many organizations that focus solely on all women of color.” As is shown above, women of color are shown to be affected dramatically. Hence, there needs to be a specific focus on these persons. As such, Thomas states, “being able to have a space where women of color can read and share stories and experiences, connect with other women who were like them who have also ultimately been diagnosed with breast cancer is very important in today’s day and age.”
“We are very excited to get our dancing shoes on and support the 2022 Sneaker Ball as a sponsor and a supporter of the community that For The Breast of Us has worked so hard to build. We created a grant program called The KAB Give Back Grants that seeks to counteract the injustice and inequality in the healthcare system through financial aid for BIPOC women who are survivors or diagnosed with breast cancer. Let’s celebrate!” said Shaney jo Darden, founder, The Keep A Breast Foundation.
Thomas also launched the Baddie Ambassadors, who, like her, are survivors and thrivers of breast cancer. The Baddie Ambassadors are women of color affected by breast cancer who want to increase their presence in the breast cancer community through social media advocacy. In addition, they work to enhance the organization’s pursuit of health equity for women of color affected by breast cancer. Each of them brings her a unique journey, perspective, and approach to navigating their journey. They also provide blogs and participate in a very open podcast called the Baddie 2 Baddie Breast Cancer Podcast.
The reality of breast cancer gets even more nuanced when broken down into the communities within the communities of color. For example, African-American women are more likely than women of other races to develop triple-negative breast cancer, associated with poorer short-term prognosis, and represent only 6.2% of cancer clinical trials. Hispanic women are more likely than non-Hispanic white women to be diagnosed with tumors that are larger and are hormone receptor-negative, both of which are more difficult to treat; they represent only 2.2% of cancer clinical trials. Asian and Pacific Islander women, whose incidents of breast cancer have been rising, represent only 3.3% of cancer clinical trials.
Bajan American Baddie Ambassador, Cynthia Johnson, shared that one of the major issues is women of color being misdiagnosed or their diagnoses being delayed. This can be due to ignorance or unfamiliarity with the culture the patient represents.
Johnson states, “We have to teach doctors to look past the fact that a woman speaks differently or that as black women we’re bigger women most times or that we’re overweight, and see what our concerns are, because they may not even understand that reality. You’re not going to tell Caribbean women to stop eating carbs — that’s just not real!”
Johnson makes it clear that understanding the cultural nuances is integral in making the best choices for those impacted by breast cancer. FTBOU helps those in the medical industry in this fashion and advocates for the right persons to be in the room when important decisions are made.
Through the various platforms, FTBOU educates women of color on the breast cancer journey for women of color to make sure they stay as informed as possible on all aspects of that journey. FTBOU is also doing amazing work by connecting women of color with clinical trial medical practitioners, especially those who, up to this point, seem to report on the difficulty they experience in getting information from and about communities of color.
FTBOU also intimately supports women of color impacted by breast cancer, primarily through their private Facebook group, where more information on the website can be found.
The organization’s significant work is advocacy and connecting by making the voices of women of color heard in the medical industry, clinical trials, and amongst professionals in the industry. Connecting comes about by bringing women of color impacted by breast cancer together, providing support in all its forms, guidance, and platforms for sharing and learning.
The team at FTBOU needs the entire community’s support to keep doing their amazing work. To learn more about FTBOU, the Sneaker Gala, and discover ways to support and get involved, please visit https://breastofus.com/.