A Black Family Cancer Awareness Week message from Dr. Janine Bera, spouse of Rep. Ami Bera

Hi, I’m Dr. Janine Bera, spouse of Congressman Ami Bera of California and Chief Medical Officer of Wellspace Health, a non-profit community health system dedicated to serving vulnerable people and underserved neighborhoods. I am also a member of the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.  

This week is recognized as National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week. We want to bring attention to the disproportionate burden Black Americans face when it comes to cancer. Black Americans have the highest mortality rates of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for all cancers combined and for the most major cancers, including breast, colorectal and prostate. These disparities are largely driven by social, economic and environmental disadvantages that make living healthy lives more difficult for Black Americans. We are more likely to lack access to safe and healthy neighborhoods, health insurance and quality health care. Without paid medical leave, many are forced to choose between going to work or going to a doctor’s appointment. These disadvantages are often routed in racism and discrimination.  

The pandemic has only worsened these disparities. Many Americans, but especially ethnic minorities, have canceled or delayed their medical appointments and routine cancer screenings during COVID-19. Missing routine medical appointments and cancer screenings can lead to delayed diagnoses for cancers. And when cancer isn’t detected early, it’s harder to successfully treat. So I am here to share a call to action. Take charge of your health and get your routine screening appointments back on the books. Share this message with your loved ones. If you have put off a routine cancer screening or aren’t sure what screenings you need, visit www.preventcancer.org/backonthebooks.