What did the African American program look like in its early days?
Dominique: This program was created with the knowledge that women of color are under-represented in the medical field. Because of LatinaSHARE and their successful model, the door was open for us to create a program that addressed the needs of Black women.
We’re in our tenth year of the program, and looking back, a lot has changed. We started out with two Ambassadors who volunteered to provide information about breast cancer screenings, signs and symptoms, as well as myths and facts to their friends, families, and communities. Eventually we got funding to print materials, expand our team, and pay our Ambassadors for their work. These women have gone to schools, consulates, churches, health fairs, hair salons… anywhere we can provide this vital information.
What do you envision for the program in the future? Any exciting things on the horizon?
Tia: This is something Dominique and I talk about a lot! Because I’m new to the organization, I feel so fortunate to have this history to work with and expand on. I’m excited to grow our team and our engagement within the community.
One thing I really want to focus on this year is spreading the word about our program and free resources. We just got back from the National Action Network’s Women’s Empowerment Luncheon, which focuses on issues that impact the Black community. We saw Mayor Eric Adams, Al Sharpton, Hilary Clinton, and so many other amazing leaders. We had a table to promote our outreach and services and made so many connections with people who didn’t know a program like this existed.
We want our name to be synonymous with support and education for Black women diagnosed with breast, ovarian, uterine, cervical or metastatic breast cancer.
Why is this program important in general, but also to the two of you?
D: What brought me to the African American program was my experience caring for my father after his cancer diagnosis. We were lucky to have support from our extended family and community, but I also saw people struggling who didn’t have that. Advocacy is so important when it comes to improving outcome and survival rates, and SHARE understands this on a race and socioeconomic level. We’re here to support as many people as possible.
T: When my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I saw what it did to her. She had one of her breasts removed and really struggled emotionally after that. She was very lucky to have access to good healthcare and resources, but that isn’t the case for everyone. I wish resources like ours were available for her when she was diagnosed. Now it’s my mission to let people know that we are here. Anything that can help Black women get through a challenging time in their lives should be readily available and thoroughly acknowledged.