Fashion and Fun after Fifty

Posts Tagged ‘African American Women’

Love/Avon Army of Women | Guest Post

Each year, 19,000 new cases of breast cancer occur among African American women. That’s 19,000 too many.

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate of breast cancer for African American women is 77%, compared to white women’s rate of 90%. In addition, African American women are more likely to develop breast cancer at a younger age, and we tend to develop more aggressive tumors, which are harder and more expensive to treat.

Enter Dr. Kathleen Arcaro from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She studies breast cancer by studying breastmilk, which is full of breast cells key in figuring out how breast cancer develops. Over the past ten years she’s worked to improve our understanding of breast cancer risk, and her findings may lead to new screening, prevention, and treatment strategies.

The problem? Black women are underrepresented in the research. As a result, findings that work for white women or women with less aggressive forms of breast cancer, don’t work for the majority of black women grappling with the disease.

To ensure her findings are applicable to women of all races, she has been working to recruit African American women for the Love/Avon Army of Women, a project aiming to recruit one million women to sign up to participate in breast cancer research (if they choose to do so). By signing up, participants will receive an email newsletter with breast cancer research opportunities. Some research is as simple as a questionnaire or a phone interview.

Having African American women well represented in the breast cancer research is key, for her research and many others.’ So Dr. Arcaro hopes black women will sign up for the Army of Women (and be sure to select “breast milk study” as the referral type to help track the impact).

You can learn more about Dr. Arcaro’s work, and see if you or other women you know might qualify for one of her studies, at the website of the UMass Breastmilk Lab, and follow the lab on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest


Join the Cause

Monday Mammogram

“Good morning, please take off everything from the top, then put on this gown with the opening in the front”

Yes, that’s the phrase I hear from the friendly technician when it’s time for my annual mammogram and on Monday at 7:30 am I had my 12th.

Annual Mammogram

Annual Mammogram

Have you noticed any changes to your breasts?”


Have you felt any lumps or experienced soreness in your breasts?”


Do you have on any deodorant?”


 Okay, are you ready?”


let’s start with the right side first….left arm down…grip here…move up a little closer…you’ll feel a little pressure…okay hold it…now relax.”

Next it’s from a different angle, then repeated on the left side.

  Annual Mammogram

This is the only conversation we have while having my breasts moved, lifted, adjusted then flattened between two plates to be imaged.

Annual Mammogram

For all my years of having mammograms, I can honestly say, it’s never really hurt, uncomfortable, yes, but not overly painful.  I have always scheduled my exam during Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a big reminder to have it done – no excuses or memory lapses.

Annual Mammagram

Sadly, far too many women refuse to have a mammogram because of the preconceived notion that there will be unbearable pain involved, trust me, the pain of not going can be far worse.

I have lost an aunt and cousin to Breast Cancer and have several other cousins who are Breast Cancer survivors, so I know it’s better to be checked and uncomfortable for 15 minutes than not at all.  

Annual Mammogram

Have I ever been called back after a mammogram?

Annual Mammogram

Yes, and it was nerve-wracking to say the least, but nothing was found. It was just the density of the breast, the angle of the image or noticeable calcification on the x-ray, which is why you are asked not to wear deodorant before the exam.  Most deodorants/antiperspirants contain aluminum which is very similar to microcalcifiactions, which is an early indication of breast cancer. 


Annual Mammogram

I had my first Mammogram at the age of 40, however, it is now suggested that women, especially African American women begin at the age of 35. If you have any questions or need additional information, please check out  

Early detection is key, however, when women are not vigilant in doing monthly self breast exams or having an annual mammogram the survival rates decrease.  Triple Negative Breast Cancer is now the most dangerous form of breast cancer and is prevalent among African American women.   Treatment for it can kill or even cause another form of cancer to appear, Robin Roberts is a survivor of Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Annual Mammogram at Papastavros' Associates

Annual Mammogram

Do Breast Self Exams Monthly – The Best Protection is Early Detection! 

P&G has a new Downloadable Phone app that aids in early cancer detection, so try it out today.

self exam


Who Me? ~ I’m Vitamin D Deficient

Hello Friends and Happy Hump Day Wednesday!

Remember last month when I started my birthday at the Glasgow Medical Center taking tests, well the results are in and although not all of them were abnormal, one was a bit disconcerting.  I am Vitamin D deficient.

Me…the dunking of Oreos into a big glass of milk…me….the Kahlua mixed with milk drinking…me….the daily eating of cottage cheese in salads…me…the tomato and cheese sandwich eater…me…the yogurt spooning, sun worshiping me is Vitamin D deficient – REALLY, how does that happen?


Vitamin D deficiency is more common in women, people of color, obese people, senior citizens and breast-fed infants.  For 52 years I have been in good health, other than the normal bumps and bruises and a few minor cuts as a child I have been the picture of health.  Only two hospitalizations, the first was 21 years ago when I had to have a Cesarean Section giving birth to #1 son, and the second was four years ago for Urethral Diverticula,

So how does one go from that to this…simple


vitamin d supplements

Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are millions of people with ailments, diseases and disabilities far worse than being Vitamin D deficient, so I’m not crying, “woe is me”.  I’m just passing along a little information that I’ve learned since my diagnosis, because more than half of the US population could also be Vitamin D deficient.

 Vitamin D is really a hormone rather than an actual vitamin and it is needed for calcium absorption required for bone growth and density.  90% of our Vitamin D comes from directly from the sun, but darker complexions do not absorb as much due to the melanin in our skin.

Body fat interferes with how Vitamin D is formed as well as age, after 50 we are less able to produce Vitamin D.  Vitamin D stimulates muscle growth which is important especially for older women who are more susceptible to bone softening osteoporosis.  Low Vitamin D levels have also been associated with the increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment and cancer.

vitamin d foods

Symptoms may be subtle but they include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • leg cramps
  • muscle pain or weakness/cramping
  • sleep interruption or insomnia
  • poor concentration or memory
  • headaches
  • bladder or bowel issues (urgency/frequency or constipation/diarrhea)

The best way to determine if you have a Vitamin D deficiency or to determine the best dosage you need for your body, your blood levels must be tested.  Levels may be lower in the winter and higher in the summer, but this chart shows the categories of those levels.

vitamin d levels

There are several online sites including where you can get additional information but for me, the bottom line is that I need to increase my Vitamin D intake, including taking a supplement of at least 2000 mg; eat more foods fortified with Vitamin D such as milk, butter, yogurt, orange juice, and oily fish and of course hang out in the sun more and you know me…I love hanging poolside…so a trip to The Bahamas may be just what the doctor orders!

sunshine vitamin d

Have a fantabulous day – Smooches!