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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Barbados’ Cynthia Johnson Pushes Education.

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October is here and all month long, Breast Cancer awareness will be a focal point worldwide. In the Caribbean community, one Bajan woman, who’s fought the good fight, maintains her superpower as an educator and volunteer through the organization, For The Breast of Us.

FTBOU brings women of color impacted by Breast Cancer together, providing support in all its forms, guidance, and platforms for sharing and learning. 

The reality of breast cancer gets even more nuanced when broken down into the communities within the communities of color. For example, Black women are more likely than women of other races to develop triple-negative breast cancer, associated with poorer short-term prognosis, and represent only 6.2% of cancer clinical trials.

Hispanic women are more likely than non-Hispanic white women to be diagnosed with tumors that are larger and are hormone receptor-negative, both of which are more difficult to treat; they represent only 2.2% of cancer clinical trials. Asian and Pacific Islander women, whose incidents of breast cancer have been rising, represent only 3.3% of cancer clinical trials.

For the Breast of Us Bajan Baddie Ambassador-Cynthia Johnson is the CEO & Creative Director of Our Like Vibes. Cynthia crafted the design aesthetic for Our Like Vibes and other brands like Bajans & Friends for Health & Education and Caribbean Heritage Magazine. She was diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in 2018, one year before she was old enough to begin regular mammograms. After a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation, Cynthia is currently undergoing hormone therapy. To cope, Cynthia shared her journey candidly on social media. This led her to educate and advocate for breast cancer and health disparities. Cynthia lives by the mantra, “If you’ve got to go through it, GLOW through it.”

Barbados born, Cynthia Johnson

An educator by day, at night, Cynthia glows by volunteering her time as a Baddie Ambassador with For The Breast of Us, an Advocacy Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Center for Public Policy, a certified global educator with the Know Your Lemons Foundation, a member of Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc. and a proud Bajan Baddie! She believes one of the major issues is women of color being misdiagnosed or their diagnoses being delayed. This can be due to ignorance or unfamiliarity with the culture the patient represents.  “We have to teach doctors to look past the fact that a woman speaks differently or that as black women we’re bigger women most times or that we’re overweight, and see what our concerns are, because they may not even understand that reality. You’re not going to tell Caribbean women to stop eating carbs – that’s just not real!,” she said recently.

Johnson makes it clear that understanding the cultural nuances is integral in making the best choices for those impacted by breast cancer. FTBOU helps those in the medical industry in this fashion and advocates for the right persons to be in the room when important decisions are made.

Cynthia knows that to do better, you must know better. She hopes that by sharing her story, she can arm women with the tools necessary to understand and advocate for their health while breaking down barriers to equitable health outcomes for people of color.

Cynthia can be found online at @cynserity. @ourlikevibes

A LITTLE ABOUT FTBOU

FTBOU is an organization born three years ago with a single mission: Create a safe space for women of color diagnosed with breast cancer and reinforce them that they are not alone. Understanding the importance of representation, FTBOU has successfully expanded its diverse ambassadors from the two founders to thirty Baddie Ambassadors over the last two years. Tapping into various women from all walks of life, with different diagnosis and treatment routes, allows the organization to expand its voice and the women who can benefit from it. 

Additionally, all ambassadors have a personal commitment and bias for action regarding advocacy and staying up to date with the latest cancer treatment developments—all to give it back when helping new breast cancer patients. In the last two years, FTBOU has also accomplished two successful retreats that have brought survivors from all over the nation to inspire and educate them as they craft their journeys.

Special note: For the Breast of Us will host their inaugural sneaker ball, “We Run This Gala,” during Breast Cancer Awareness month on October 15, 2022, in Houston, Texas. The Gala provides a platform where breast cancer survivors and thrivers are celebrated nationwide, along with those advocating and educating our community and those no longer with us. This Gala is another creative idea from the organization aiming to mobilize support in the fight against breast cancer, connecting their favorite wear – sneakers – with their favorite elegance. 

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Della

    24th October 2022 at 4:36 PM

    Great read!

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