Why Black Families Don’t Talk About Breast Cancer

breast cancer shame

Breast Cancer Survivor Silence

As a breast cancer survivor, did you think that you were the only breast cancer survivor in your family? Were you shocked to learn that women in your family also had breast cancer but you never knew about it? Well, you’re not the only one!

Why is it so hard for African-American families to talk about certain things with each other? Black women, why is it so hard to learn about our bodies from our mothers? I had no idea that I was not the only breast cancer survivor in the family.

When I found out was that I wasn’t the only breast cancer survivor in my family, I was angry. I could not understand why no one talked about it until after I was diagnosed. Everyone in my family knows to watch out for diabetes and high blood pressure. Unfortunately the warnings did not include¬†breast cancer.

Are Black Women Ashamed to Have Breast Cancer?

Is the subject of breast cancer top secret? When I read the stories of other breast cancer survivors they mention whether they had a family history of breast cancer. And they also know if they are a carrier of one of the breast cancer genes. The common theme here is that these are stories from white women.

Are we ashamed to talk about our bodies? And if we are, is it because of body shame, rape, and slavery that happened to African-American women throughout history? We should not feel ashamed about our bodies and anything that happens to our bodies.

No one should be ashamed to have breast cancer. A breast cancer diagnosis can be scary and lonely. Breast cancer survivors need other survivors to depend on, to know that they too can beat this killer disease. We owe that to each other, at the least.

Genetic Testing – Does Breast Cancer Run in the Family?

Finding out that some older women in my family had breast cancer is cause for me to be tested for the breast cancer genes (these genes are called BRCA1 and BRCA2). Testing positive for either of these genes makes you a higher risk for getting breast cancer.

I have not taken the genetic test yet because part of me doesn’t want to know. If I were to test positive, I think my oncologist would suggest that I get a mastectomy of my other breast with radiation and chemotherapy. And I am not ready for that yet. Until then, I’ll roll the dice and whatever is meant to be will be.

Did your family talk about breast cancer and other women-related diseases? Have you considered genetic testing? Let us know; we’d love to hear from you!

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