To kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month Mary J. Blige is using her voice and platform to bring attention to the barriers black women face when it comes to breast cancer screenings and preventative care to save lives. Saying Black families arent talking enough about breast cancer, Mary took the stage in Manhattan earlier this week not to entertain but rather educate as part of a panel discussion brought together by Hologic, the company behind the 3D Mamogram exam. The Panel included Linda Goler Blunt, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative; Dr. Alrene Richardson, MPH, Chicago physician and Chair of the Department of Radiology at Jackson Park Health and moderated by journalist Sheinelle Jones. The three women covered a wide range of topics that include top healthcare options not being in close proximity to many women of color, medical mistrust, negative experiences with doctors that keep Black women from going back and the fact that we are in a pandemic and women are just not making appointments from checkups causing delayed diagnosis. Mary also points out the lack of conversations being had at home about how serious health issues often run through our families. “My aunt died from breast cancer. My grandmother died from cervical cancer and one of my aunts just died from lung cancer,” she said. “What happens is they end up in the hospital and there’s no one in our families speaking about it when we’re younger.” According to the CDC, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States. Black women have the highest death rates of all racial and ethnic groups and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.
“I didn’t know about breast cancer or mammograms until I was 40 and I was in the music business and I was trying to take care of myself. My body started talking so I started listening,” she said. “I found out about it at the GYN. They don’t discuss this when we’re children. They don’t say, ‘Go get a mammogram.’ You learn about this as you get older. So they don’t speak about it and that’s why they end up in the hospital with two weeks to live and now you know about it. That’s why it’s extremely important to me.” Says Mary. “I’m here to let women know, no matter how scary it is or who’s telling you it’s scary, take care of you. Take care of your health,” she said. “My health is my wealth. My health is my beauty. Beauty is healing from the inside out. If you’re sick you can’t be healthy, you can’t glow, you can’t shine. You can’t be an example to people. I’ve been in the forefront all my life as Mary J. Blige the singer: Mary J Blige fell on her face, Mary J. Blige got back up, Mary J. Blige’s business is on Twitter and Mary J. Blige has albums that help women heal from a broken heart. So now I want to help women heal from breast cancer. I want to help us feel beautiful all the way around.”