Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Rose Russell

Sunday s message: breast cancer issues

WHEN church ushers pass out bulletins in the morning, the following should be italicized or otherwise highlighted in the list of announcements for discussion: Breast Cancer.

No time there? Then please, find time somewhere in the service. Have the choir sing one less song. Or, Sister Pastor and Brother Pastor, shave a few minutes off your sermon.

Who do I think I am? Only somebody concerned about how breast cancer affects women. So here s something to encourage you to fit a breast cancer awareness message in your Sunday morning service: The less women know about breast cancer, the sooner some of them could face eternity, and that would have an adverse effect on church growth efforts.

The breast cancer death rate is especially devastating among black women. Every year, 211,000 American women are diagnosed with the cancer. Every year, 40,000 of them die. According to an American Cancer Society publication, Cancer Facts and Figures, the incidence of breast cancer among white women is 140.8 per 100,000, compared to 121.7 among black women. However, the mortality rate is higher among black women than white women: 35.9 compared to 27.2.

While the breast cancer death rate for any group of women to me is high, it s disturbing that while the U.S. black population is only about 13 percent, more black women die. Men also get breast cancer. So if these are not compelling enough reasons for ministers to make room in the Sunday service for a briefing on breast cancer, little is.

Frankly, many black women still must be convinced to conduct monthly breast self exams, to see the doctor for annual exams, and to have mammograms. Then, when illness is acknowledged, too many blacks wait too late to seek medical attention. Those scenarios don t even begin to take into consideration the role that racial disparity plays in health care delivery for black Americans.

That s why it s also imperative to be vigorous about one s health and to ask questions, lots of questions. Then follow through after tests and get a doctor s explanation of the results. That reminds me of an experience a friend had after discovering a lump in her breast. She didn t have pain associated with the lump, and rather than urge her to see what a doctor had to say, a technician told my friend not to fret if she wasn t in pain. What? So if a lump doesn t hurt, ignore it? That s outrageous and also wrong. Thankfully, my friend saw a doctor.

This is one more reason why issues of eternal as well as temporal proportions must be addressed from the black pulpit. During the civil rights movement black churches were important havens of information. But many now are so focused on taking ease in Zion today. Consequently, some of the zeal for social action has been lost. Indeed, some black churches have health sessions, and more are finally addressing the topic of HIV/AIDS.

But considering the devastating effect of breast and other cancers, the effect of hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, poverty, crime, discrimination, and other social illnesses adverse effects on black communities, these issues deserve more attention from the church.

So let s say that if you are not at the 12th annual Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure in downtown Toledo tomorrow morning yes, it begins at 9, Church School time somebody should bring the congregation information about the health issue.

Breast cancer awareness has prevailed about this time every year in this region for more than a decade. Yesterday, many women and men in the area donned pink in support of breast cancer awareness. Up to 15,000 participants are expected in the morning to run, jog, and walk the 5K path, trying to raise $500,000 for the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Setting time to talk about breast cancer in your church service could save a life.

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