FILM & POST-FILM DISCUSSION
Survivor Stories Show the Personal Side of Cancer Health Inequities
In a powerful new documentary, “Sisters We Thrive, Stories We Tell,” cancer survivors and health care professionals share personal stories to highlight the inequities in breast cancer screening, treatment, and access to care for black women in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among black women ages 20-44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black women with breast cancer have a 41% higher death rate and a 23% lower survival rate after 5 years compared to white women, according to the CDC.
Lack of access to health care is part of the problem, but it doesn’t stop there, according to Debra Nevels, a health systems manager with the American Cancer Society in Wisconsin.
“Do we have a standard of care that is the same for African American women and white women? And the answer to that is no,” Nevels explains in the film. “That is definitely a problem.”
Cancer survivor Terry Jones Carr shared her experience with her cancer diagnosis. Regular mammograms never detected a problem. But when Carr pushed for a biopsy, she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. She advocates for women to know their bodies and fight for themselves.
“I would tell anybody whatever you do, be persistent, because you know your body,” Carr says.
Listening to cancer patients and survivors is a critical step toward more equitable cancer health outcomes, says Dr. Sandra Millon-Underwood, a nursing professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“What’s most important for us is to hear from the survivors,” Underwood says in the film. “They can give us a sense of what can be done, of what should be done. Their voice is so important.”