Taking Action to Improve Health Equity

[00:00:00] Adam Walker: Support for the Real Pink podcast comes from Lilly. For more than 50 years, Lilly has been dedicated to delivering life-changing medicines and support to people living with cancer. And those who care for them. Lilly is determined to build on this heritage and continue making life better for all those affected by cancer around the world.

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. Susan G. Komen and Lilly launched a new multiyear program to address breast cancer health disparities experienced by Black women in the U.S. The partnership expands support services for Black women in the Midwest and across the U.S. to help close the 40% mortality gap in breast cancer. Chaunt√© Lowe, American record holder in high jump and mother of three, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer that disproportionately affects Black women and has felt the impact of these inequities in her own breast cancer experience

[00:01:10] Chaunte Lowe: Thank you for having me, Adam. It’s great to be

[00:01:12] Adam Walker: back. It is so good to see you again. It’s been a while in our listeners. Can’t tell this, but you just have the best smile. So it’s just such a good way to start a morning.

We’re recording in the morning. This is great. So let’s just dive in, you know, last time. We spoke. It was early in the year. And you had shared your experience with being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer and how listening to your body and being persistent with your doctors was so critical and navigating your breast cancer experience.

Catch us up on what’s been going on with you and how your.

[00:01:43] Chaunte Lowe: Yeah. So, you know, it has been, um, life changing obviously to get a breast cancer diagnosis, but my positive and optimistic attitude has continued to really push and propel me through this whole experience. And, um, you know, we’re, we’re doing well, we’re in the middle of sports season now and the kids are doing a whole lot of amazing things.

So I’m just really, really happy to be here and just. Glad that I was given the opportunity to reach my full potential. And, um, yeah, that’s, that’s pretty much a little summary of last year.

[00:02:15] Adam Walker: You mentioned sports and kids. I just have to ask, right. You you’re you’re mother of three, you’re a world record holder, uh, you know, a record holder.

Like what sports do your kids

[00:02:24] Chaunte Lowe: do? Okay. So I love that you say world record holder American record holder back. Good. Isn’t that good? You know, maybe we have a little bit more time for that, but I have a volleyball. Who is a great high jumper, also a soccer player who also loves basketball. And then I’m having e-sports gamer.

[00:02:46] Adam Walker: Nice. Okay. Very cool. Awesome. Well, I can only imagine that sports must play a pivotal role in your family, so that’s fantastic. Well, that’s great. It doesn’t so many families, right? So, so what, what are the topics that we touch? One? Topics that we touched on when we first boat was finding the community connections, research, and resources that you’ve been looking for at Susan G Komen today, you’re helping come and bring attention to a new partnership and work to improve breast cancer, health equity for black women.

Can you tell us a little bit about that, that initiative? Yeah,

[00:03:25] Chaunte Lowe: so, you know, when I got started, um, in first found out that I had breast cancer, I was looking for some type of community, some type of connection, I think. So alone and so isolated. And that’s what caused me to go on to Instagram. And I found the Columbia account and I sent out a message and you know, the, the respondent on that, on that community was like, you know, we’re here for you.

We support you. And at that point I was in the beginning of this journey. I did not know what I didn’t know. And as I began to do more and more recent. I’ve found that, you know, my story was less common than I wanted it to be. And that, you know, African-American women were being, um, disproportionately impacted by breast cancer in, in various ways.

And so now there’s this amazing initiative with the Lilly partnership with Susan G Komen, it’s going to help bring tailored resources to black women living with breast cancer. And the goal is to help eliminate barriers to health information. Quality care and support services that are needed for women just like me.

And so I’m so excited about this partnership and, um, you know, I learned that it was needed through going through my own cancer.

[00:04:34] Adam Walker: Yeah. And, and, and let’s talk more about that. So you mentioned that you learned it through your cancer journey. I assume that means you felt barriers in your own diagnosis and treatment.

Uh, w who are, what helped you break through those barriers?

[00:04:46] Chaunte Lowe: Yeah, so I think just having an, uh, a support system around me, um, the first. Um, I guess the first step is actually knowing that the barriers exist. I did not, you know, you think, you know, when breast cancer, you, you kind of lump it together all as a whole, but you don’t think that it would impact different races of people more than it does another.

And so when I found out that information and I found out that black women are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than our white counterparts, that’s the statistic that was like, okay, something. Has to happen. And as I began to dig, I noticed that Coleman had a lot of resources available to African-American women.

And, you know, we have the, the, um, the helpline that specifically tailored to asking questions, you know, getting questions answered. And I felt like as I started talking to different women that they started saying like, you know, I didn’t feel like I was listened to and they just started kind of sharing with me their different barriers.

And that’s where I felt like, no, I have to get involved in any way that I can. Um,

[00:05:50] Adam Walker: I’m so glad that you’re, that you’re doing this. And we’ve talked about this disparity on this show before, and it’s just it, we we’ve got to overcome it. Right. And we only overcome it by people doing amazing work, like what you’re doing right now.

So, so I’d love to, I’d love. Dig a little deeper to even better understand from your perspective. So in your experience, what are some of the common challenges that black women impacted by breast cancer face?

[00:06:12] Chaunte Lowe: Yeah, so there’s, there’s several things and it’s not like one, one factor that we could pinpoint, but what we’re finding that, you know, early diagnosis is a huge barrier and that comes with education, additional information.

Um, there’s an aggressive nature to certain. I’m sorry, breast cancers that are more prevalent in African-American women. And, um, you know, there’s, there’s the genetic factor, the lack of quality care. And then obviously what we’ve been talking about so much this year, when it comes to discrimination, then in systematic racism, those things are all factors that impact.

[00:06:51] Adam Walker: Yeah. Yeah. That’s very well said. Um, so what does breast cancer, health equity mean to you

[00:06:59] Chaunte Lowe: then? Yeah, so basically when it, when it comes to health equity, you know, it’s not, not equality. I think that’s what we used to always focus on. But when we talk about health equity, we mean that everyone has. Fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

And that’s what Lilly and Coleman are trying to focus on. They’re trying to achieve health equity for black women and women, black women living with breast cancer. So it’s, and really the reason why is because we are just proportionately impacted by this disease.

[00:07:30] Adam Walker: And I think therefore, This group needs more focus to make sure that that impact is lessened.

Right. Is that kinda

[00:07:37] Chaunte Lowe: what you’re getting from the equity perspective? What we’re trying to address? Yeah,

[00:07:41] Adam Walker: that’s good. That’s that’s so, so important. And so, uh, where can people learn more about the program and Cummins work to improve breast health?

[00:07:50] Chaunte Lowe: Yeah. So if you want to learn more information, you can go to www.komen.org forward slash health equity, and you can get additional information about all the amazing initiatives that we’re tackling.

And we have three that we’re super excited about and, um, yeah, that’s where you can get the.

[00:08:09] Adam Walker: All right, make sure to visit the websites. So Chaunte, this question’s not on our list, but I just got to ask you, you have this infectious joy about you, right? Tell me about, like, talk about that. Where does that come from and how does that help motivate you?

[00:08:25] Chaunte Lowe: So I, I have a daily maintenance on my joy. I feel like it’s something that I have to schedule in every single day. I do things that. That bring my heart happiness and you know, that give me peace, joy, love, you know, those are the areas that I try to really inject into my life. And I think that I’m able to do that because I feel like I have been put on the best platform possible to be able to be my best self.

And so for me, a little bit of daily maintenance is talking to people like you sharing great news. Um, and yeah, just being able. To schedule me in my day.

[00:09:06] Adam Walker: Oh, I love that. D a daily maintenance for joy. I think, I think I may have to, I may have to schedule that in myself. That’s fantastic. Oh man. Well, this has been so great.

I so appreciate you taking the time to come on the show and genuinely appreciate the work that you’re doing. Uh, thank you for the good work that you’re doing for this community. And, uh, we’ll have to have you on again soon.

[00:09:27] Chaunte Lowe: Thank you so much. And before I go, I definitely will. You know, make sure that I do this partnership justice by talking about just the three things that we’re going to do specifically.

And one of the things that Lillian Coleman wanted to do is one to expand the patient navigation program into three cities where black women are experiencing disparities in breast cancer. And right now that’s Chicago, Chicago St. Louis and Indianapolis. Um, in addition to that, we’re going to be holding the first.

So be excited about this lookout for this. The first navigation nation, patient navigation summit, um, in 2022, and this is going to provide vital, uh, virtual skills based training and educational resources to the current patient navigators across the country. And, you know, finally. Um, what we’re really excited for is supporting Coleman’s already existing, um, national breast care health helpline, but just being able to expand those resources.

So we are beyond thrilled. This is amazing. And I’m so glad that Lilly and Coleman are partaking in this endeavor.

[00:10:31] Adam Walker: I’m so glad to Lilly and Komen doing amazing work for important communities of people. Thank you all for the work that you’re doing. Thank you.

Thanks to Lilly for supporting the Real Pink Podcast.

To learn more about the Komen patient navigation program and other efforts to achieve health equity, visit www.komen.org/healthequity

Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen. For more episodes, visit realpink.komen.org . For more on breast cancer, visit komen.org. Make sure to check out @SusanGKomen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog, AdamJWalker.com.