What was supposed to be a routine visit to the gynecologist ended up being a wake-up call for actress Meagan Good. After an abnormality was found in her uterus, some tissue was tested and she was told that it could potentially become cancerous. With cancer not a rare disease in her family, she was understandably alarmed.
“Both of my grandmothers died from cancer, and my grandfather died from cancer, [and] my aunt just had a mastectomy,” she tells ESSENCE. “It just was terrifying to think, this is how it happens. One second you’re fine, the next second you’re hearing things like this and you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Upon having the problematic tissue removed, Good decided she wanted to be more conscious about her gynecological health and that she wanted the same for other women who look like her. That’s why she’s teamed up with FORCE, SHARE, Black Health Matters and pharmaceutical company Eisai Inc. for the Spot Her campaign. The aim is to raise awareness around endometrial cancer, which is the most common form of uterine cancer. It’s also a a form of cancer with a mortality rate highest in Black women when compared to other groups, as Black women find themselves dealing with more aggressive cell types upon diagnosis.
“We know health disparities negatively affect minority communities, and endometrial cancer is no exception,” says Ginger J. Gardner, M.D., Chair of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer and Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “The mortality rate of endometrial cancer is two-fold higher for Black women than for other racial groups, and it’s because of these disparities in outcomes that learning to spot the potential signs of endometrial cancer and knowing the risk factors is especially important for Black women and other women of color.”
For Good, she had no symptoms or signs that she could feel or see on her own to let her know what was going on internally, so she’s grateful for the information she received at that doctor’s visit.
“Having routine checkups, whether you think there could be something wrong or you don’t think anything’s wrong at all, is the only way to really spot these things and to know the difference,” she says.
Other women experience irregular bleeding before and after menopause, which Dr. Gardner says many people assume is not uncommon. She echoes Good’s statements and says that having open communication, not just with your healthcare provider but also with loved ones, is the best way to be aware of what’s occurring in your uterus and figure out when things are wrong.
“Oftentimes symptoms like abnormal bleeding can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other conditions, so knowing and talking about gynecologic health symptoms with friends, family and particularly your healthcare provider can help more people overcome the stigma and spot what could be endometrial cancer early, when it may be more treatable.”
Risk factors for endometrial cancer include obesity, age, a family history of uterine cancer, a diet high in fats, a history of irregular periods and a lack of exercise. Those with PCOS or Lynch syndrome are also at increased risk. But people with no risk factors can still deal with this disease, so it’s important to take care of yourself in order to have the best chance of avoiding it. That includes maintaining a healthy weight, having a healthy diet and making time for exercise, obtaining genetic testing when necessary and working with your doctor to evaluate and receive proper care for pre-cancerous conditions affecting the endometrium.
Taking care of herself is of the utmost importance to Good, and it goes deeper than just preventing a cancer diagnosis. As she shared with ESSENCE, prioritizing health and wellness is how she feels her best, mind, body and spirit, no matter what she may be going through.
“It’s been a lot of prayer, therapy, meditation, being intentional about what I put in the world; being intentional about what I get involved with like the Spot Her campaign; things that feed my spirit that make me feel in alignment like I’m walking in purpose. And just staying connected to God. Just taking care of myself and being bold and unapologetic about me time and what I need for my spirit and my soul. I’m still in a season for sure but I definitely have a lot of peace and a lot of joy and I trust God 100 percent.”
As part of the campaign, now in its second year, Good is taking part in the Spot Her virtual walk, motivating people to literally walk their way to increasing awareness about endometrial cancer. For every mile logged through the Charity Footprints website or for each use of the #SpotHerforEC on social media, Easai Inc. will donate $1 between FORCE and SHARE, as both advocacy groups support people living with endometrial cancer. You can take part in the walk, which is going on until June 22, 2022. To participate, visit the Spot Her Charity Footprints site to register and learn more. Also, utilize the #SpotHerforEC hashtag on social media.
To Learn more about the great work Good is taking part in, check out our interview with the actress, above.