PHILADELPHIA – On Thursday, May 5, 2022, a little over a dozen mothers and grandmothers gathered at Treasures on the Avenue, Banquet and Night Club for what they hope will be an annual Mother’s Day luncheon and celebration of cancer survivors.
The luncheon began with everyone talking about their experiences with cancer, the experiences of those they knew who survived, and those who didn’t make it. The loving and motherly environment provided by Lenora Gaillard, who has organized this event for years, helped people open up about these battles for survival and the impact cancer had on their lives.
“Mother’s Day is a good time to remind the women in your life to self-examine for breast cancer monthly and get a mammogram screening yearly,” said Gaillard. “We want to keep women in our life’s health, and that’s one way we can do this, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes, we want them to be able to catch it early.”
Black women are 41 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than their white counterparts.
Triple-negative breast cancers are among the most aggressive and difficult to treat subtypes of breast cancer. About 21 percent of the breast cancers diagnosed in Black women are triple-negative, compared with 10 percent in their white counterparts.
A good portion of the two-hour event was spent on information about self-examinations, breast cancer, and other common types of cancer, including colon and prostate cancers.
Participants of the luncheon passed around a bead necklace to help visualize what to feel for when doing a self-examination and information about different types of breasts, including breast density.
Women with dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with fatty breasts, and the risk increases with increasing breast density. According to the National Cancer Institute, research has found that women with dense breasts are no more likely to die from breast cancer than those with fatty breasts after accounting for other health factors and tumor characteristics.
“Early detection is critical,” said Dr. Sarah Zeb, Director of Breast Imagining at Johns Hopkins Medical Imaging, Columbia. “If you wait to have a mammogram until you have symptoms of breast cancer, such as a lump or discharge, the cancer may be more advanced.”
As much as the luncheon was about awareness and information for these mothers and grandmothers to pass on to other women in their lives. It was about celebrating survivors, encouraging compassion for caregiving women, and celebrating this powerful role in society.
“We must take time out to celebrate ourselves as mothers, grandmothers, in whatever capacity you give care in our families; you can’t love and care for someone else if you don’t take care of yourself first, said Gaillard. “Too often we get so wrapped up in helping everyone else that we forget to love on ourselves; that’s what today is all about.”
A dish of fried fish and rice was served for lunch before ending with several rounds of Beat Breast Cancer Bingo for prizes. No one left without a massive gift bag of goodies, a hug from someone, and a happy Mother’s Day.
For more information on early detection and prevention, talk with your Primary Care Provider but you can also click on the links below:
Pennsylvania Breast & Cervical CancerEarly Detection Program (PA-BCCEDP) (formerly called the Healthy Woman Program (HWP))