Let’s Get Loud About Equal Care
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Did you know that Black women in the U.S. are two times more likely to die from cervical cancer than white women and the death rate for breast cancer is 40% higher too? Black women are not receiving the care they deserve—and it’s about time we do.

It’s these disparities in care that prompted Hologic, global leader in women’s health, to create Project Health Equality, a multi-year campaign that is committed to decreasing health inequities for Black women. They know that solving these complex issues will take more than new resources. It will take diversity of thought, insight, and imagination. That’s why they’ve partnered with proven-effective nonprofit organizations that have the values, vision, and expertise to make a meaningful difference, like the Black Women’s Health Imperative. It’s the only national organization devoted solely to advancing the health and wellness of America’s 21 million Black women and girls.

Hologic and the Black Women’s Health Imperative are already taking actionable steps toward reducing existing health disparities for generations to come. Together they held a roundtable themed Unmuting Fibroids: Getting Loud for Equal Care to address the major gaps they found in uterine fibroid care. By age 50, as many as 80% of Black women have had fibroids—they are more than twice as likely to undergo a hysterectomy and have almost a seven-fold increased risk of undergoing myomectomies despite studies that show increased morbidity with both myomectomy and hysterectomy. 

Hosted by Tiffany Cross, Host of MSNBC’s The Cross Connection, this roundtable discussion was raw and insightful, with the panelists offering up four solutions to help stand up for health equity, especially women living with uterine fibroids today and the women that will be diagnosed in the future.

Expand Awareness On A Larger Scale
A common thread woven throughout the discussion was the urgency to create conversations about symptoms of uterine fibroids and to help reduce the stigma around talking about the disease. “We have to stop whispering about this topic and have honest and courageous conversations about women, women’s health issues, fibroids and infertility,” says Shawna Watley, First Lady, Kingdom Fellowship African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. And her thoughts were echoed by Entertainment Tonight Co-Host, Nischelle Turner, who said, “The first thing we need to do is take the shame off, take the veil off. I’ve been saying I just had surgery, but what I realized I need to say is ‘I had fibroid surgery’ and talk about what that is and what that means.”

Make Periods A Vital Overall Health Sign
Cynthia Bailey took this topic into people’s living rooms. She showed her uterine fibroid embolization treatment on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta. “I felt very alone. I felt like no one really understood what I was dealing with or going through,” she says. Part of the isolation Cynthia felt stemmed from a lack of understanding about her period. Which prompted Dr. Cindy Duke to stress the need to “normalize the conversation” surrounding periods, because a period is a “vital sign,” for how your body functions.

Women suffering from painful or heavy periods should not feel that they must suffer silently. The panel is hoping to see periods framed as a primary indicator of health, with mindfulness leading to solutions that can benefit patients long before more extreme symptoms arise. “Even with knowledge, we often still discount the symptoms. We discount by saying we’re tired, by saying we’ve lost interest in our partner, we just aren’t eating right, when in reality, we are extremely anemic, and your body is giving you cues to find iron any way that it can,” added Dr. Duke. Through increased discussion on monthly periods, women can sooner determine if what they are experiencing is normal, closing some of the gaps in treatment and care.

Help Doctors Understand Black Women’s Needs
Many women featured during the panel voiced their experiences with not receiving quality care from their medical providers. While many healthcare companies are training doctors to better serve patients of color, that will take time. So, if you feel most comfortable seeing a Black doctor, check out online databases that connect Black patients with Black medical professionals, like BlackDoctor.org and HUEDco.com. “Having a black doctor walk me through my symptoms was a complete 180 and really changed my outlook on treatment,” says Kimberly Wilson, Founder and CEO, HUED and Special Projects Editor at ESSENCE. But the most important thing is to find a culturally competent doctor who understands your needs, and is well versed in treating all their patients, specifically those who are more inclined to experience complications with this disease.

Support Legislation For Research, Education And Access
Once your wellness plan is in place, begin to help others get the care they need by supporting the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Uterine Fibroid Research and Education Act of 2021. Roundtable participants believe it to be critical in enacting change for Black women with uterine fibroids. “This is not a partisan issue,” says Kim Miller-Tolbert, Deputy Legislative Director & Policy Advisor from the Office of US Senator Cory Booker. “We are trying to eliminate disparities and provide more options and awareness.”

Panelists invited everyone to join forces to ensure women are getting the care they need and deserve by calling their representatives to express support of the bill, and encouraging family and friends to do the same.

Together we can change, and normalize, the conversation about uterine fibroids while speaking up and demanding equal care.

For more information regarding Hologic’s Project Health Equality and to see how they continue to innovate and address health equities for Black women, visit https://www.hologic.com/ProjectHealthEquality.