Culture, Connections and Courage: Unapologetically Navigating Breast Cancer

Real Pink Podcast – EP275 – Dr Chalice Rhodes – Michelle Benjamin – Full (1)

[00:00:00] Adam Walker: From Susan G Komen, this is Real Pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.

[00:00:17] Welcome to another powerful episode of the Komen Health Equity Revolution podcast series. Each month we invite patients, community organizations, health care partners, researchers, and policy advocates to spark conversations about strategies and solutions that drive the health equity revolution forward for multiple populations experiencing breast health inequities.

[00:00:40] In this episode, breast cancer advocate Michelle Anderson Benjamin shares her inspiring story of living with metastatic breast cancer. Joined by licensed professional oncology counselor and breast cancer survivor Dr. Chalice Rhodes, they delve into the importance of cultural connections, the power of advocacy, and the necessity of prioritizing mental health during a breast cancer diagnosis.

[00:01:02] Tune in during National Minority Health Month as we explore how to improve breast health outcomes. Through culture communities and connections welcome Michelle and dr. Chalice

[00:01:18] I’m so glad to uh initiate the conversation. Y’all are gonna have a conversation about i’ll initiate the conversation. So to get started Uh, let’s start dr. Rhodes Can you kind of give us a 30 second overview of your story and then Michelle, give us a quick overview of your story and then i’d love for you to to connect and converse from there.

[00:01:34] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Okay, great Hi, everyone. My name is Dr. Chalice Rhodes. I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and Board Certified Telemental Health Counselor. I was diagnosed with DCIS, ductal carcinoma, in situ in September 2022. I turned my pain into purpose after having a lumpectomy and decided to become a cancer oncology behavioral health specialist.

[00:01:59] I completed 22 radiation treatments and turning my pain into purpose. I am now reaching out to our breast cancer survivor and driver community to help support mental health. I help people to transform their lives, to live their best lives now, and to prioritize their mental, physical, and spiritual health as we are holistic beings.

[00:02:22] Michelle Benjamin: Um, and I, everyone, my name is Michelle Anderson Benjamin. I am a 40 year old woman living with metastatic breast cancer, triple negative. I was first diagnosed at 36 with stage 1 went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy. Um, I had 12 surgeries due to reconstruction, um, um, complications. And unfortunately, less than a year later, I was, we had a reoccurrence.

[00:02:45] Spring went from stage one to stage four. Um, when I was first diagnosed, I was working in the cancer, um, community. I worked at a cancer institution. So I was in the, in frontline of cancer. So I kind of had a guided way to my journey, but I also realized that women in my facility didn’t look like me. When I went to treatment, no one really looked like me.

[00:03:06] I stood out. I was a 36 year old Black woman. I’m still in my prime. I’m sitting in a waiting room with the majority of older women who are Caucasian. So I decided to use that opportunity to change the narrative. and to bring awareness to the fact that more women like myself are walking through these doors.

[00:03:25] So we should be represented in all aspects of our journey. Um, I started the Fearless Warrior Project, which is an organization based to empower patients with cancer to embrace the new normal. And what I mean by the new normal is the new you. So I try to live my life to the fullest. out loud. I still embrace the beauty of myself, even with the changes.

[00:03:46] And I encourage others to find that empowerment within themselves. You were still beautiful despite your flaws. Embrace your flaws. Be the best version of yourself and don’t make cancer your life. It’s just part of your chapter. Um, also with this organization that I started, I started it with my seven year old daughter, who at the time was three because I needed her to understand the importance.

[00:04:05] of loving herself and there’s never an age to not do that. So with, she is my co founder. She is part of my legacy and she is part of my purpose along with her brother. Um, she teaches and educates people at seven. Um, the importance of knowing herself. So Um, she does her own self breast exams. We call it checking her button.

[00:04:24] Um, she writes blogs about her journey of living with her mom with cancer and how we are redefining the way cancer looks for women of color in our community. That we are still beautiful Black queens. We still wear our crown. We still can celebrate every single day. We can still live life out loud. And it’s important that we pass that on as generational wealth for our youth so that they are part of the marathon.

[00:04:49] Not just fans in this game. 

[00:04:52] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Wow, Michelle, I am absolutely so honored to be speaking to you, how you have turned your pain into purpose into this project, uh, you know, into the project and then involving your children. So can you share with us your story of being diagnosed with breast cancer and how it has impacted your life?

[00:05:12] Anything else that you wanted to add since you, you know, you already started sharing such a powerful testimony. 

[00:05:18] Michelle Benjamin: Um, so I come from a family. I’m the first woman in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Majority of the men in my family, there’s a high rate of prostate cancer. Um, at 36, I realized that I woke up one morning, my breast was leaking blood.

[00:05:31] I didn’t have any lumps or any tumors. I do self rights exams. I had just had my annual with my doctor. So, um, you know, I was having a discussion with my husband about him getting his prostate exam. And of course, you know, doctors are always telling you, you’re too young. It’s not time. And, you know, But he also has a high rate of prostate cancer in his family.

[00:05:52] You know, I scheduled the appointment, he showed up. Um, and at the same time, I, um, you know, I was experiencing the bloody discharge for myself. So on the same day that he was having his prostate exam, I was having my mammogram. And unfortunately, I was the one diagnosed with cancer. Fast forward, I am now, you know, 40 years old with stage 4.

[00:06:13] I went from stage 1 to stage 4. four. And I can honestly say that this journey has really been more impactful than, um, than, than a deterrent in my life. Um, it’s been more inspirational and it’s been more purposeful simply for the reason I am a person that’s very spiritual. And I believe that in life that God gives us assignments.

[00:06:36] And I found my superpower in this journey because I’m able to stand in front of podiums and speak to hundreds and explain my story from a perspective of passion and not a perspective of what I read or what I was told. I also am able to encourage others to empower themselves and to be their own advocate because unfortunately for women that look like me, when you don’t have a voice, you’re not seen.

[00:07:00] Yes. 

[00:07:02] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Oh, my goodness, Michelle. Thank you so much for sharing your story. And I’m so glad that you talked about the spiritual element, because as a holistic provider, our mental health, which includes our thoughts, our feelings and our behaviors also includes our physical health and our spiritual health.

[00:07:19] When you were first diagnosed, did you notice any distress, any stress, any symptoms. What was that like for you hearing the word? 

[00:07:29] Michelle Benjamin: So, um, I was diagnosed during the pandemic. So, um, unfortunately, like many other people. You know, the pandemic kind of puts you in a place where you have to be idle for a while, and that when you’re idle, you start processing things that you constantly, you probably put on the back burner because you’re so busy with lifing that you’re not really paying attention to those things.

[00:07:48] So I was very intentional of making sure that my mental health was already a process because being a mom working with two kids trying to be a teacher at the same time every single day and there’s no break it’s a lot it’s a lot so um so at the time I knew something was wrong and I was listening to the words that were being said during the turn during the the investigation and discovery phase right when I was going for different tests and I would pay attention to how wording was changing from let’s see what we’re dealing with to what what’s happening And, um, or let’s see how severe things are and just paying attention to those little gray areas kind of allowed me to mentally prep and pregame for that initial meeting.

[00:08:35] Um, fortunate enough, I was able to between, um, testing and biopsies. I had about a 2 week turnaround before I was told these things, but I also did my research. And I did my research, meaning like, if this is what my life is going to be, then I’m going to be the captain of the ship. I had printouts of different oncologists at my hospital, different breast surgeons, so that if this was to be the conversation, we going to have a real conversation.

[00:09:01] And when I walked into that door, I remember I had on my hoodie, I had on my headphones, I had on my little pimp. And I was walking into that off that room, like going into a boxing match. And I sat there and had the conversation. And of course, doctors, they start off like a sandwich, they give you the bread, and they give you the mayonnaise, and they slowly start putting the lettuce and the tomatoes on.

[00:09:23] And right before they put the meat, they take a breath and they go, this is this, this is what’s happening, right? So I remember them saying, you know, you have cancer. And I sat back, and he gave me a minute, so I’m gonna give you five minutes. He stepped out, I broke down for about three minutes, he walked back and I was like, all right, let’s go.

[00:09:45] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Let’s go. 

[00:09:46] Michelle Benjamin: And that’s because also my foundation, I had a dad, unfortunately I lost my dad during my journey. My dad was, was a retired police officer, very assertive, but he was a really a no nonsense type of guy, meaning that he taught you the real, not the fake. He wasn’t, yes, I was his princess, but I was also a woman that should be able to be independent and take care of herself.

[00:10:08] I was also, I was also guided that life is not about not being emotional, but it’s not about, it’s not about getting stuck in it. Oftentimes we get, we go through hardship and we get so stuck in it that we don’t see no out. Yes. And the thing is, it’s not that you dismiss it, but you give it its own time slide.

[00:10:27] So he would say things to me like, you have five minutes to cry your tears and on that six minute, you better have a solution. So hearing that from a child as an adult, I’ve always operated to that degree. I’m known in my family as the problem, the problem fixer. Why? Because I don’t want to hear the crying.

[00:10:45] I don’t want to hear the bull horn. I want to hear the solutions. So the suggestions that we can make a resolution, 

[00:10:52] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Michelle, I love that’s a gift that your father offered you because, you know, as a licensed professional counselor in a Black community, a lot of my work is breaking down the mental health stigma.

[00:11:04] So for your father, even as a police officer and how he was trained being a man in his profession, but for him to have the wherewithal to say, listen, baby, You got five minutes to cry this out, have whatever emotion you want. At least he offered you the gift of being able to acknowledge and become aware of your emotions and feel them.

[00:11:25] Because unfortunately, a lot of, a lot of times in the Black community, Black folks are trying to survive. They’re trying to have a, we’re trying to have a roof over our head. We don’t have time to talk about emotions. So in some communities, emotions don’t even exist, huh? What are they? So the fact that your father prepared you and then see, you were able to utilize that when you went into your appointments, being equipped and armed with knowledge and being a problem solver, and you went in there like a warrior, but I think the important thing is you had your time to experiencing and feel all of your emotions.

[00:11:59] Because what a lot of people don’t realize. When you hear the word cancer, the stages of grief and loss are going to kick in at some point, right?

[00:12:08] Michelle Benjamin: They definitely do. And when I tell people all the time, cause I also, by being diagnosed, it inspired me to become a certified mental health coach advocate. It, it, um, encouraged me to become a certified grief coach, but also to become a certified death doula.

[00:12:23] Why? Because oftentimes we as individuals think grief is death of a person. Right. And sometimes in real life, grief is loss of something. It does not have to be a person. It could be a person, place, or thing. And it could be the person you once was. It could be the life you once had. It could be the relationship you once went through.

[00:12:43] It could be the child. It can be so many other things. And the body processes the same exact way. So how do you show up for yourself in those spaces? How do you acknowledge not, right? Acknowledge this happened. And how do you process? Instead of getting stuck in the why and why me mindset is what, what is the lesson being told to me?

[00:13:08] Right? And then also, I had to get out my own head that deaf is, deaf is automatically part of the plan. So, To think that you have cancer, that means you’re going to die. You were going to die anyway, love. So why are you so stuck on that fear? If anything, you change that fear to a superpower. So if you are in a place where things are, you feel like you’ll lose the control.

[00:13:32] How do you regain back that control? I, I, I programmed my whole funeral the way I want it. I set up my own, um, my own death plan the way I want it. And that only, not only freed me, but it also frees my loved ones because now they’re not stuck trying to figure out how do we do this? How do we get this done?

[00:13:54] But it also brings the conversation and it reminds you. Time is not promised, love. So why are you wasting it? Yes. Why are you wasting it on this relationship? Why are you wasting it on this job? That’s not making you happy. Why are you wasting it on it on these, on you have all of these passions that you want to do and all they are are notes in your notebook.

[00:14:14] Like I’d rather you go out there and try and fail than to just sit there and not do anything. Yes. 

[00:14:21] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Oh, I love this Michelle. You have been a fierce advocate for yourself, turning your pain into a purpose now a fierce advocate for other survivors and drivers. As a breast cancer advocate, what advice do you have for individuals who may feel hesitant about advocating for their own breast health, especially to their providers?

[00:14:42] Michelle Benjamin: Um, I always encourage people that advocacy is very different. Every advocacy is not the same for everybody. Everybody has their own thing and that’s how they are. But that doesn’t take away for how you can get your, get the message across. You know, I tell my, I tell my patients all the time. If you have questions with your doctors and you are not ready to speak, that’s why you have the portal.

[00:15:03] That’s why you have email, send the email and say that I have these are 10 questions that I have. Um, you can either email me back or we could discuss that our next, my next appointment. Um, find a friend, get a coach. And what I mean by get a coach, your coach can be your sister 

[00:15:19] or 

[00:15:20] your best friend. 

[00:15:21] You know, your best friend, that’s the, the, the one in the, one in the group that’s about that life.

[00:15:25] You bring her with you to those appointments and she will be your mouthpiece. She will be that person to be like, all right, so what are we doing? And how is this one look? And what does this mean for her? You know, sometimes we got to tap in our friends like that, not for the, for the drama that they can do for us, but for the advocates, for the, for the, you know, that, the fighting for us don’t have to be street.

[00:15:46] It can be in these rooms. 

[00:15:49] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: I love it. 

[00:15:50] Michelle Benjamin: You know, use your people for what they good at. 

[00:15:52] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Yes. I love it. You better go ahead. Um, Michelle, I love this. So how have you encouraged family members to prioritize regular health screenings, particularly for breast cancer? 

[00:16:05] Michelle Benjamin: Um, so I have a seven year old daughter when I was diagnosed, she was three.

[00:16:10] And my kids and I are very connected. So I sat both of my children down and I spoke to them. I spoke to my 13 year old differently than I spoke to my three year old. Um, my three year old, I was able to find a coloring book, um, called what is, what is cancer, which is for, was made by a Black woman, Diamond Sham God.

[00:16:28] She runs her own organization, Shades of a Cure in New York City. And she’s also a breast cancer warrior as well, but it’s only, it’s, um, she has a version of her coloring book. That’s just for breast cancer. And that me and my daughter, what we colored and played. And we spoke about these things inside the picture and we were able to have these discussions because I knew my force, my first course of action plan for my treatment was to remove my right breast.

[00:16:54] And I will walk around with a one breast for a while. My breasts were extremely large. I wear a H cup. That’s very noticeable when you have one boob. She’s gonna notice that. You understand? And if your kids are like, you know, your kids are like my kids, you could be in the shower, and they busting in the bathroom, the actual sex.

[00:17:12] They’re gonna notice that mommy only has one breast. They’re gonna ask questions. So let her hear from mommy first, then to hear it from someone else. Um, and by doing that, it’s educating her. So I taught her how to check her buttons. And she knows how to do a full breast exam. Um, but I also saw the fire within her to want to know more about herself.

[00:17:35] If this is my journey, right? And these are my children now, uh, not only how I’m, how am I looking at life on how to be a better version of myself? I’m looking on life on how to prepare my kids in my absence. 

[00:17:47] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Yes. Wow. Oh, you are a powerful woman and your testimony is so powerful and so inspirational, you know, your legacy is so important.

[00:18:00] So nothing prepares you for living with metastatic breast cancer. So what do you do for yourself to prioritize your mental wellness and health? 

[00:18:11] Michelle Benjamin: So I am very intentional about making sure Michelle is okay. Um, I play no games. Um, I’m very unapologetic about my time and that goes for everybody. Even my own kids.

[00:18:25] So if I, I have my bi monthly massages scheduled and paid for in my budget, um, I do sound therapy. I work out three times a week and I make time for Michelle and unapologetically figure it out. I am not, I, I, I will disappear for day. I will do staycations in a hotel and just cut my phone off and just watch TV and order takeout.

[00:18:49] But I also pour into myself, but I, I have this, whatever my bucket list is. I’m very intentional about it. So if they, I love, I’m a lover of music. I will get on a plane in a heartbeat and go to a music festival and for the weekend and have a good time. Um, you know, I will book a whole, a vacation in, in just live.

[00:19:08] And I don’t allow this journey to be what my life, like I go to treatment every three weeks. But my life is not around treatment. My treatment is around me. So what I do is when I have things, I show up to my appointments like these are my things. I don’t have to go and figure this out. Oh, you are just giving me such life.

[00:19:27] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: So I know you are just giving the world life with your story. I appreciate you sharing Michelle and you are such a warrior. I’m so proud of you of how you turned your pain into purpose and, and all of your hard work and dedication and commitment just over your life. earning a master’s degree, you know, creating your own company, creating legacy in your children.

[00:19:48] So thank you so much. 

[00:19:50] Michelle Benjamin: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. But we’re going to flip the script a little bit. Okay. And I’m going to ask you some questions. All right, let’s go. So you’re a breast cancer survivor. How has your behavioral health support after a breast cancer diagnosis personally impacted your journey?

[00:20:07] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: So I feel like the breast cancer diagnosis Just made my ministry even more powerful, more powerfully getting my message of mental, physical, and spiritual health. Because you know, as a licensed professional counselor, of course I know the techniques to reduce anxiety, stress, depression. But when you hear the word cancer, licensed professional counselor goes out the door.

[00:20:34] You know, It goes out the door. I’m a mother as well. So I have two fabulous sons. They are 12 and 16 years old. And when I heard the word cancer, they were the very first people that I thought of and anxiety flooded my soul. And I was worried. And of course I was worrying like, am I going to live? And the doctors were trying to convince me, listen, you are a case of early detection saves lives.

[00:20:57] This is ECIS reported. Before it could spread, you’re going to have a lumpectomy. We’re going to remove it. You’re going to have 22 radiation treatments. And with this line of treatment, your prognosis to live is very high. So not to worry, but you know, I have my moments of anxiety, but you know, even knowing my own technique, I’m To use on myself.

[00:21:18] Guess what made the difference, Michelle? My relationship with God. I was raised in a church, always had a relationship with God, but strengthening those areas of my life that needed to be strengthened, letting go of things that needed to be let go of, letting go of stresses, anxieties, outside worries. But really, that’s really been my journey.

[00:21:42] And then when I met with my surgeon, My surgeon said to me, wait, we’re hitting it off and laughing. Kind of like how you and I are. She said, what do you do for a living? I said, I’m a therapist. I’m a licensed professional counselor. She was like, oh my goodness, we need you. She said, I have nobody to refer my women to.

[00:22:00] And I’m like, what? And I’m like, she’s not lying. Because when I first heard the word cancer, I started looking for a therapist. So I started looking for a therapist that specialized in cancer. Couldn’t find one. So I knew that the surgeon was. Telling me the truth. And then two weeks later, you know what happened?

[00:22:18] And I believe this is all divine. I get an email from one of the insurance companies that I’m contracted with during breast cancer awareness month. And they were calling for providers to become what cancer oncology behavioral health specialist. So guess what? I answered the call, became a cancer oncology behavioral health specialist, developed six week online groups to support survivors and thrivers.

[00:22:45] The six week model is based on what’s in my logo. The words in my logo, Renew, Restore, Hope, Peace, Harmony, Vitality, and each module is related to those six words. Now, what else I did, Was I created my own app. It’s called Dr. Chalice Teach. So go to your Google Play Store or your Apple Store. Download Dr.

[00:23:11] Chalice Teach. Well, I developed an app where I want all of our survivors and thriver community to go. So you can download my free course. It’s called Thrive Breast Cancer Survivorship. This is a 14 hour course. So I’m basically taking my 12 years of teaching experience and making creative courses inside my own app.

[00:23:33] Download the course. Everything you need is there. And again, it’s based on the six module, renew, restore, hope, peace, harmony, vitality. It is trauma informed, evidence based discover, uh, it, it, we explore every topic in this course. It’s going to be a really helpful resource for those who need it. 

[00:23:53] Michelle Benjamin: Yes, Queen.

[00:23:54] Thank girl. You just, not only did you, not only did you pour into yourself, you put, you put foundational steps then for other people to pour it within themselves. And I truly, truly grateful for that. I’m truly, truly grateful for that. So how do you come to support others going through your own experience?

[00:24:12] And you kind of tapped into that already with your app and your course and your, you know, taking on the new role of behavioral health oncology, you know, you, you use your, your, your journey. 

[00:24:23] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Yeah, you know, I really understand, you know, as a therapist, we can work with people. We’re trying to work with people from all backgrounds, all issues.

[00:24:35] As a therapist, you do not need to have gone through exactly what a person has gone through to really be able to be effective. It’s really the rapport that we build with our clients that makes the work that we do most effective. So it’s not required that a therapist go through exactly What you’ve gone through.

[00:24:55] Now, I haven’t gone through exactly what you’ve gone through, Michelle, as this fierce, clean, metastatic breast cancer survivor because my diagnosis is different. But the fact that we have that word cancer in common, and I know exactly what it feels like to hear the word. I know exactly what it is to feel all of your emotions.

[00:25:16] I know exactly what it is to redefine the boundaries. Uh, establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries and redefining your entire life. I know the stress, the anxiety, you know, some survivors have explained to me they felt depressed. Some have even felt traumatized by some of the treatments that they have gone through.

[00:25:37] So I actually know what it feels like and I just feel like it just, makes me more effective. It makes me more credible, you know, to our survivor thriver community because I’ve actually walked somewhat in other people’s shoes. So I feel like there’s a greater connection there as well. 

[00:25:56] Michelle Benjamin: And what I’m also hearing from you, and I think, um, it’s very important is that we need to see people that look like us.

[00:26:03] We need to see people that look at us and we need to know people that experienced our situation. Um, you know, it’s very important that representation matters. And unfortunately, that is a lot of the negatives that are in within this journey is that We have to outsource our connections, um, because they’re not present in the primary places that we go to.

[00:26:26] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: I actually love this. And the fact that you talk about the health equity as something else that I also specialize in. So I’m a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging consultant. So you know I have partnered with so many organizations to talk about breast cancer health disparities. Thank you. And in a Black community, it’s so high, you know, that we are more likely one in eight women will face a breast cancer diagnosis sometime in her lifetime.

[00:26:53] But Black women are up to, I have read research studies where Black women are up to 46%. I know a lot of people say 40 or 42%, but some research says it’s actually up to 46 percent more likely to die of breast cancer. Triple negative breast cancer. You know, Black women are overrepresented there as well. Um, we get treatment at a later time.

[00:27:19] We get diagnosed at a later time due to health disparities, health inequity, not having accessible or affordable healthcare or dealing with providers who are not culturally humble nor culturally competent. So I also train healthcare providers. And how to be culturally humble, culturally competent in our community and other communities, how to train them in motivational interviewing, how to really try to have empathy with people, because it is proven through research studies that racism and discrimination does exist and it does impact the care that Black women receive.

[00:27:57] Michelle Benjamin: It definitely does. I definitely does. Um, how important is mental health in this journey? 

[00:28:06] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: Mental health is paramount. And I want to reinforce our mental health. Is our thoughts, our feelings, and our behaviors, but we have to take a holistic perspective of our mental health. It’s not just our thoughts, our feelings, and our behaviors.

[00:28:22] It also includes our physical health. So our diet. Our exercise, our nutrition, the amount of sleep that we’re getting. We know as cancer survivors, we have to pay attention to what we are putting into our bodies. Even if you were paying attention before cancer diagnosis, we need to be paying attention even more.

[00:28:42] Limiting alcohol intake if you drink alcohol. We know that the sugar and alcohol, what does that do? It, it just helps the cancer cells to spread if you have an underlying condition and we didn’t really touch on our knowing our family history is so very important. So actually I didn’t find out until after that breast cancer does actually run in my family.

[00:29:05] It actually skipped the generation and landed on me. But boy, did it land on the wrong one because we, I’m going to be out here impacting and helping people in the cancer community. So maybe it did land on the right one, right? Okay, and then so our sleep, listen, the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep.

[00:29:25] We really got to get our sleep in check because our sleep impacts our mental health. It really does. Have you ever noticed when you don’t get a good night’s sleep, have you ever noticed the next day you might be a little more grumpy or irritable, snappy than what you normally are? Okay. Our nutrition. And then exercise.

[00:29:43] We need to be getting at least 150 minutes of exercise, moderate to vigorous exercise a week. And then our spiritual health. What is your sense of spirituality? Because listen, that made the difference. Praying to God, casting all of my cares on God, knowing that he cares for me. That is what really helped to push me through.

[00:30:05] We developed a model of the multifaceted model of depression in African American women. And we found that faith based communities, because of the high level of spirituality in the Black community. Faith based communities was an intervening variable in helping women to reduce their depression symptoms.

[00:30:25] And this goes for other symptoms such as stress. Such as anxiety, many in the Black community use prayer, they use their churches, they use their faith based communities to help with their mental health. Actually, many in the Black community might go to their pastor before they seek out a therapist like me, because they don’t realize that Christian counselors exist.

[00:30:48] So as Christian counselors, I am trained, right? My internship, you know, when I earned my master’s degree in clinical psychology, my internship was at a faith based counseling center, taking classes at church, being trained in a word of God, being trained in prayer. So for my clients who want Christian counseling, I offer them prayer, scripture, you know, to help.

[00:31:13] And on top of that, combining that with evidence based therapies and treatment. Definitely. Definitely. 

[00:31:21] Adam Walker: Ladies, this has been a pleasure to just listen to and learn from. I really appreciate just all of the nuggets of wisdom that you both brought out in your passion for this community. It’s really evident in your conversation.

[00:31:34] So as we sort of wrap up, I’ve got one last question. What message would you like to share with listeners who may be facing their own breast cancer journey or in support or actively supporting a loved one through their breast cancer journey? 

[00:31:48] Michelle Benjamin: Um, so what message I would give is give yourself grace. Give yourself grace.

[00:31:54] Um, you know, and that goes for both the person and the caregiver. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t feel that the world is on your shoulders. Take one day at a time, but do be productive in that day and give yourself grace. 

[00:32:14] Adam Walker: I love that. How about you, Dr. Chalice? 

[00:32:16] Dr. Chalice Rhodes: All right, listen, I have to drive home this point.

[00:32:19] Balance is important, ladies and gentlemen. We have to balance our mental, our physical, and our spiritual health. It really is key to living optimally. 

[00:32:30] Adam Walker: Love that. That’s beautiful. Well, uh, both of you, thank you so much for the work you’re doing, uh, for your passion for this community and just for your time on the show today.

[00:32:39] We so, so much appreciate it. 

[00:32:41] Michelle Benjamin: Very welcome. Have a good one. 

[00:32:43] Adam Walker: And thank you for joining another episode of the Komen Health Equity Revolution podcast series. We will continue to galvanize the breast cancer community to support multiple populations experiencing breast health inequities to advance and achieve breast health equity for all.

[00:33:01] Because ending breast cancer needs all of us. To learn more about health equity at Susan G Komen, please visit

[00:33:15] Thanks for listening to Real Pink, A weekly podcast by Susan g Komen for more episodes, visit real And for more on breast cancer, visit Make sure to check out at Susan g Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam. You can find me on Twitter at AJ Walker or on my blog adam j