I launched The Golden Hoop Project to create awareness about breast cancer risk and to empower young Black women under 50 to take control of their health by learning their family history and pursuing genetic testing as a preventative measure. When I discovered that JScreen (www.JScreen.org), a national. non-profit genetic testing and counseling program, was based out of my alma mater, Emory University, I knew they were the perfect partner for The Golden Hoop Project.
I believe that life presents golden hoops when you arrive at the crossroads of adversity x opportunity. Let's jump in together.
My fierce, talented and golden hoop wearing mother, Dr. Irma J. Bland, was my hero. She was diagnosed with breast cancer twice - first at 38, then again at 50. My mom eventually lost her hard fought battle in 2003 when she was 55 years old. Given my family history, I pursued genetic testing in 2021. After learning I was a BRCA2 carrier, I assessed my options and elected to undergo a preventative double mastectomy to dramatically reduce my breast cancer risk.
It was important for me to re-write my story and not only become a survivor, but a pre-vivor. My mother was a true warrior, but she never had that opportunity.
Run the numbers
In the United States, Black women are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer and those under 50 die at two times the rate of white women. Black women are also diagnosed at a younger age and those under 35 are dying at three times the rate of white women. Those with a BRCA gene mutation have up to a 70% chance of getting breast cancer and Black women are less likely to pursue genetic testing even though they face the same hereditary risk of breast cancer mutations.
*Source www.touchbbca.org and cancer.org
How you can help
-Jen Hayes Lee
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