Real Love R&B queen Mary J. Blige has teamed up with the White House to announce a breast and cervical cancer initiative created to increase awareness, prevention and treatment of the diseases.
In partnership with the American Cancer Society, Blige will co-host national meetings in support of more money for research to “help us end cancer as we know it. For good.”
The Yonkers-born singer and actress is no stranger to how cancer affects families. She has been vocal in the past about how she has lost several family members from breast, cervical and lung cancer. She has also promoted breast cancer awareness through the Black Women’s Health Imperative, which supports minority women who are disproportionately affected by the disease.
During a visit to the White House, where she met with first lady Jill Biden, she said misapprehensions about mammograms among Black women and “the practice of not wanting other people in our business” were to blame for inequalities in breast cancer outcomes between Black and White women.
She further stated that had her aunts, godmother and grandparents known about their cancer diagnosis early, “they would have a different outcome today.”
The average age for a breast cancer diagnosis in Black women is around 60, but the chances of them developing breast cancer can come before 40 compared to their White counterparts, according to the American Cancer Society. It is recommended that Black women begin their annual breast cancer screenings at 35 and they should begin to engage in talks with their doctor at 30, Ryland J. Gore, M.D., an Atlanta breast surgical oncologist told NBC News.
“I think that there’s fear associated with getting mammograms,” Gore said, adding that many women fear getting screened because they are afraid that they will receive bad news and will require a biopsy. “I do want to make sure women know that the overwhelming majority of biopsies are benign,” she added. “You should get your screening mammogram starting at 40 years of age, and this should happen every single year.”