Author Archives: SuzyKnew!

About SuzyKnew!

SuzyKnew! is dedicated to improving the sexual and reproductive health and sexual pleasure of women of color.

A Bug Linked To Infertility May Become A Super Bug

Ladies! Ever heard of Mycoplasma Genitalium? You may want to learn about it, especially, if you’re sexually active. It’s a little-known sexually-transmitted infection (STI) that can cause infertility, and it’s one of the fastest spreading STIs.  Not all providers test for it. Mycoplasma Genitalium is resistant to some broad spectrum antibiotics  such azithromycin.  Both men and women can get this pesky STI, and women may not see or feel any symptoms.  Mycoplasma Genitalium can be asymptomatic. Researchers say the STI could already be present in one in every 100 adults and it may very well become a superbug due to its antimicrobial resistance.  Besides infertility, this STI can do a lot of damage such as cause PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) as well as miscarriage. Doctors are demanding more research. Scary.

STIs impact 1 in every 5 Americans, and after being shut up for so long during COVID, post-COVID, people are ready to get to back to knocking boots – if you know what I mean. But, sexual screenings have declined because of COVID. STI’s are surging, and, and this is one to fear. If you’re having sex with someone who may have other partners, or if you have more than one sexual partner, wear a condom.

Learn more about this STI here.

 

 

Leana Wen Takes Another Controversial Stance

Ladies, I love following one Ms. Dr. Leana Wen, the former Planned Parenthood president and on-again, off-again CNN commentator. Dr. Wen was Baltimore’s health commissioner when she was recruited to lead Planned Parenthood.  Wen was Planned Parenthood’s first physician to head the reproductive health group in half a century.  She believed in looking at abortion as a healthcare issue – instead of a political one. Wen’s career was skyrocketing – so much so she graced the cover of Time magazine. But,  Wen didn’t last a year before she was ousted from the organization in 2019 because she wasn’t considered political enough.

Fast-forward to 2022,  and Wen is being proven right: abortion is first and foremost a health-care issue. We American women know this firsthand, as we bleed out on the operating table from a miscarriage, waiting for the doctor to call their lawyer before performing a D&C, which is a fancy term for abortion.  A lot of liberal media outlets focus on the overturning of Roe v. Wade as hurting primarily Black and brown women, which allows a lot of people to check out of the conversation. The fact is making abortion illegal impacts everyone’s life and health – albeit in different ways, because the drugs and procedures used to evacuate a uterus for an induced abortion are also used in many other ways including saving the lives of women and babies.  And, yes, we Black women will bear the brunt of this. When more people understand how making abortion illegal negatively impacts their own life, the tide will turn.

Called a public-health pragmatist and visionary leader, Wen has pressed on in her career and is now taking a controversial, but honest stance on COVID.

Recently, Leana Wen wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post about why her kids won’t be wearing masks this year in school, explaining how her view has evolved in light of vaccines, different COVID variants and new treatments.  Conservative media, and some public health activists, went ballistic. In a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial called “The Cancellation of Leana Wen,” the editorial board fiercely criticized Wen for changing her mind on masks and advancing personal responsibility instead, saying the pandemic should have been about personal responsibility from the beginning. Sounds like Wen’s critics want to play politics over people’s lives and health – which is something Wen will never champion – no matter how much controversy she faces.  

 

The Rise Of Lonely Single Men – And Black Men?

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

If you’ve been surfing the web this last week, you probably ran across the Psychology Today article  “The Rise of LonelySingle Men.”

The article states that as women become more self-assured and demanding in relationships, they are becoming more selective when choosing partners. Women are no longer dating men who have poor communications skills or who aren’t emotionally available.  Yet, men haven’t been able to keep pace with these changes, and as a result they are becoming lonelier and lonelier.  As standards for relationships rise, dating opportunities for heterosexual men are falling.  The author states younger and middle-aged men are loneliest in generations, and it will probably get worse.

When it comes to dating app users, men represent 62%. This reduces their chances of finding a special lady. In short, men need to address their shortfalls in order to meet the expectations for healthier relationships.

But, how does this apply to Black men? Well… Mumia Obsidian came out with his take on the issue as it applies to Black men. The Philadelphia radio show is a little raunchy and can seem overly critical of Black women, saying a lot of the “educated and suburban” ladies just want to date Pookie and Rae Rae. But, here is their take on why Brothas’ aren’t getting the relationships they say they want.

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift August 21, 2022

I see you, Sis. I see you out here doing whatever it takes to take care of your loved ones. I peep the way you constantly put the needs of everyone else before your own. And I know the heavy toll this takes on you.

Of course, you’re overwhelmed and sleep deprived. After all it isn’t easy being the “strong” one, the dependable one. In fact, you spend so much time focusing on others that you barely have any time, energy, or resources left for yourself. No wonder you feel so tired all the time.

You deserve to thrive, be happy, and enjoy good health! Yet, in order to support everyone else in your life, you often neglect your own needs. For example, have you consumed enough water today? Did you get enough sleep last night? When was the last time you had a physical? How’s your mental health?

Listen. Your stressful and chaotic life isn’t sustainable in the long run. That heavy load you carry will eventually weigh you down, adversely affecting your physical and mental health. If it hasn’t already. You need to make some changes, and soon.

Here are some things you can do to reduce your stress, get more and deeper sleep, and improve your overall health:

  1. Reclaim Your Morning: Your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. That’s why immediately checking your social media isn’t necessarily the best first move of the day. Reclaim your morning by controlling what you consume. Experts suggest starting your day with gratitude, water, and stretches. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, say a prayer of thanksgiving. If prayer isn’t your thing, try meditating or positive affirmations. I know the “call of nature” is especially urgent first thing, but as soon as possible, drink some water. Water is life. And besides, you need to increase your water consumption anyway. Whether you workout in the mornings or not (kudos if you do), slowly stretching your body will help get your blood flowing for the day and prevent injuries.
  2. Employ the Big Red Office Hours Philosophy: If you haven’t seen The Five Heartbeats, this reference might be lost on you. Also, how have you NOT seen The Five Heartbeats??? Anyway … Remember the iconic scene where the Big Red character, the record executive, violently explained his office hours (9 to 5) to the artist who dared to infringe upon his personal time with business? I’m not suggesting you hire goons to hang your coworkers upside down out of a window. But Big Red had the right idea. Be a better gatekeeper of YOUR personal time, Sis. Because let’s be honest. Nine times out of ten, that email doesn’t need to be addressed at 10:00 PM. If you’re off the clock, don’t do any work!
  3. Limit Your Social Media Intake: Stop impulsively reaching for your phone every few minutes to scroll social media! I struggle with this, too. What’s helps me is scheduling and discipline. Set specific and brief times (15-20 minute, tops) where you allow yourself to visit one social media platform at a time. Also, avoid social media right before you go to bed. The last thing you need before sleep is the toxic stimulus of social media.
  4. Move Your Body: I won’t belabor this because you already know that regular and consistent exercise will help you achieve and maintain good physical and mental health. If this isn’t already part of your daily life, start now. And start small, with 5 minutes of stretching and 15 minutes of walking. Or do a few laps on your stairs every morning. Just do something to move your body and get your heart rate going.
  5. Increase Your Water Intake: No matter how much water you drink during the day, it probably isn’t enough. Drink more water every day. In fact, stop reading this and throw back a quick 8-12 ounces of water right now!
  6. You Are What You Eat: Again, you already know what to do. Cut back on carbs, sugar, caffeine, soda, salt, and fatty foods. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains. Don’t eat too close to bedtime and be mindful of portion sizes.
  7. Make “Me Time” A Priority: Do you have a hobby or passion project? If not, think about something that you enjoy doing, preferably alone, that relaxes you. Something that gets your creative juices going. Or something that you do for fun. Maybe you’re an avid reader or gardener. Or perhaps you’ve always enjoyed painting. Find something that you can do just for YOU and commit to doing it at least 3 times a week. Set aside a block of time (at least an hour, if possible) and let your loved ones know that you’re “off-duty”. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Then do your thing with wild abandon. Lose yourself in it. Allow yourself to temporarily disengage from your real life and focus only on YOU and whatever it is you decide to do.
  8. Reclaim Your Bedtime: Disengage from social media at least an hour before you go to sleep. If you like to watch tv before bed, try to limit your viewing options to lighter fare, avoiding news and current events or shows with excessive violence. Stick to reading, self-care activities, or doing something calming. Keeping your bedtime as stress-free as possible will ensure deeper and more restful sleep. And Sis, I know you could use a good night’s sleep these days.

Do you have any other suggestions that could help our readers live happier and healthier lives? If so, please comment below. We’re all in this together, Sis. And we ALL deserve to live our best lives.

Fertility Friday: Arvigo Therapy For Period Pain

This weekend we share Fertility Friday’s replay of the podcast on Arvigo Therapy For Period Pain with Dr. Rosita Arvigo and Donna Zubrod.

Rosita Arvigo,  a Doctor of Naprapathy, ethnobotanist, spiritual healer, author of 8 books on traditional healing of Central America and the of The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® & the Arvigo Institute.

Donna Zubrod is a nationally certified, North Carolina Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist, a DONA certified Birth Doula, and a certified practitioner and teacher of The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®. Her practice, Seven Generations Massage & Birth, offers support towards positive reproductive and digestive health experiences and outcomes from menarche, throughout the childbearing years, to menopause and beyond.  Ms. Zubrod helps couples with fertility challenges to successfully conceive and nurtures expectant mothers during pregnancy through postpartum.

What topics are covered in this podcast?

  •  The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®
  • The process of Arvigo® Therapy
  • What inspired Donna to conduct her observational study on measuring the affects of Arvigo® Therapy on the menstrual cycle parameter
  • How effects were measured for each participant
  • Confirming ovulation during the study
  • Did the participants have less painful period during the study?
  • Highlights of the results
  • How can Arvigo® bring women with extreme menstrual pain back to a normal cycle

Click here for the podcast and more information.

Click here for the podcast.

SuzyKnew! Uncovers Fake, Right-Wing Reporters At Supreme Court Protests

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

When protests at the Supreme Court erupted at the end of June in response to the Court overthrowing Roe v. Wade, SuzyKnew! joined in.

After a good Sunday breakfast, I walked to the Supreme Court and found around 500 people protesting. Everyone I saw was holding signs that opposed the Court’s decision. I didn’t see any so-called “pro-life” signs or hear any anti-abortion chants.

So, I was super surprised to see all these so-called “reporters” interviewing people at length and in-depth who supported the overturning of Roe.  When I first saw this, I jumped into the convo and demanded to know why the reporter selected this super minority opinion to film.  Then the reporter turned on me asking me if I supported “free speech,” and I turned it back on her asking if she believed in facts.  I told her (and the audience that had gathered around) that in countries where abortion is illegal maternal mortality and morbidity is higher than in those countries where abortion is legal. She screamed some nonsense at me and I looked around at the so-called camera and wondered if it was on and it all of this was just a fake alternate reality, giving people the illusion that there were all these anti-abortion protesters out and about when the the reality was completely the opposite. Most people were protesting the ruling and the Court!

And then I watched one of the fake, right-wing reporters interview a man trying to some reason into her:

I walked around and saw more of these fake reporters.  It was like these people were pretending they were in another reality trying their best to deny the one that existed.  I couldn’t tell if all of them had their cameras on and wondered who was going to see this.

JANICE RAGE: A 4th of July Without Tampons!

On top of everything else going on to restrict, control, and subvert the rights of American women (I’m looking at you, SCOTUS), there’s also an ongoing and troubling shortage of period supplies. As if times weren’t tough enough for anyone with a uterus, it’s actually harder and more expensive to purchase menstrual hygiene products than ever these days.

But before I continue, I have just one small housekeeping item to address here. For the sake of inclusion and fairness, I’m going to use the term “people who menstruate” rather than the gender-specific terms of “girls” and “women”. I want to include trans boys and men here because many of them menstruate. If the term “people who menstruate” bothers you, too bad. We’re LGBTQIA+ allies here at SuzyKnew! So, get over yourself and join us in the 21st century. Of age trans boys and men do menstruate.

tampons and pads, istock photo

Experts cite issues relating to the global supply chain problems which result in shortages of many everyday items, including menstrual hygiene products. Obviously, the supply-chain chokeholds that began with the COVID pandemic haven’t really subsided. Also, the Russian invasion of Ukraine exacerbated things, as well, especially as it relates to increased fuel costs.

But there’s also a shortage of the raw materials used in period products, like cotton, rayon, and plastic. These are the same raw materials used for personal protection equipment (PPE), the need for which has increased astronomically since the start of the pandemic.

I guess it makes sense, given these circumstances that menstrual hygiene products are harder to find and more expensive. But there’s just something about this whole thing just doesn’t sit right with me. People who menstruate make up more than half the population here in the U.S. And yet, these basic necessities are lacking in what’s arguably one of the wealthiest, most “developed” countries in the world? Make it make sense!

It’s bad enough that we have to actually pay cash money for the very things that sustain life like water, food and shelter. But I get it. Capitalism, or whatever. It is after all, the “American Way.”

But period products aren’t optional for people who menstruate! They’re not luxury items like perfume, or shoes. Like food, water, and shelter, these products are NECESSARY! And they already cost too damn much before the pandemic.

While access to these products has worsened for everyone, the people most affected by these shortages are on the lower end of the economic scale: low wage earners, people living below the poverty line, and the unhoused. According to the Period Project, an organization that provides menstrual hygiene products to people in need, the recent shortages and price hikes have devasted their efforts. Last August, the cost of a “period pack,” which consists of tampons, pads, liners, and wipes to cover one menstrual cycle was $5.86. Less than a year later it costs $10 per pack! And the price is still rising.

This is crazy! Without period products, people who menstruate can’t go to school or work outside their home for several days EVERY MONTH! Just thinking about the economic impact that has on the lives of girls, women, and others is overwhelming. Never mind the social and psychological impact. Until our country prioritizes menstrual equity, reproductive freedom, and economic parity for all citizens, things are only going to get worse.

This weekend, Americans across the nation will celebrate almost two and a half centuries of our “Independence” from tyranny with family gatherings, barbecues, cookouts (yes, there’s a difference), and fireworks.

Oh, the irony!

We’re supposed to be the world’s beacon of freedom and democracy, but we seem to be moving backwards. Our daughters and granddaughters have fewer freedoms today than we had. Fewer people who menstruate have access to affordable hygiene products, which will further impede their ability to go to school, work, or pursue the happiness to which we’re all, according to the laws of this land, entitled.

Happy 4th of July, folks.

Forbes: Overturning Roe V. Wade: Here’s How It’ll Impact Reproductive Healthcare — Beyond Abortion

Topline

Ladies, it’s a sad day for the United States. The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade, after being the law of the land for 50 years. It’s the first time the Court has taken away a Constitutional right.

Today, SuzyKnew! reprints an article from Forbes on how this will affect reproductive health writ large in the United States.  

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday and gave states license to ban abortion—and many already have—which experts warn could have far-reaching and dangerous implications for treatments like miscarriages and the entire field of reproductive medicine.

People suffering miscarriages and other complications could face issues accessing medications and treatment. AFP via Getty Images

© Provided by ForbesPeople suffering miscarriages and other complications could face issues accessing medications and treatment. AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

Many of the procedures and medications used to perform abortions in the U.S. are also crucial for treating miscarriages, Seema Mohapatra, a health law and bioethics expert at Southern Methodist University, told Forbes.

That means the legal restrictions to abortion—alongside the fear of being prosecuted or suspected of facilitating one—also threaten to limit access to these procedures for treating miscarriage.

This could prevent medical staff from offering optimal treatment to their patients, Mohapatra warned, pointing to reports from Texas where miscarrying patients are struggling to obtain their prescribed medication.

Widespread bans on abortion would also severely curtail where doctors are able to undertake abortion training, which are a requirement for OB/GYN residency programs (residents with moral or religious objections may opt out) and must be offered at another institution if unavailable.

Nearly half of residency programs are located in states that are expected to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to a study conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco and UCLA, with “at most 56%” of obstetrics and gynecology residents expected to have access to abortion training if that happens, down from 92% in 2020.

Abortion bans could compromise the ability of states to recruit trainee doctors or secure places for them to train out of state, limit doctors’ hands-on experience with abortion training and provision that is useful for treating miscarriages, and possibly skew the states where OB/GYN specialists choose to live, train and work.

Key Background

Abortion is likely to be banned in 26 states now that Roe has been overturned, with 13 states having “trigger laws” in place that have already outlawed abortion or will in the coming weeks. Many only contain exemptions for medical emergencies or when the life of the mother is at risk, leading to worries among healthcare providers about the vaguely written laws and what the bar is for when abortion is acceptable. Bans on medication abortion are also likely to become more prevalent if Roe is overturned—at least 20 states have introduced bills this year that would restrict or ban abortion pills so far this year, per the Pew Charitable Trusts—which could impact miscarriages, given that two of the same drugs targeted in medication abortion bans are also used for miscarriages. Those unintended consequences are already being felt in Texas, where the state’s ban on abortion after six weeks and on medication abortion are already resulting in reports of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for drugs prescribed for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies.

Anti-abortion rights advocates have denied that Roe being overturned will have a negative impact on maternal healthcare or the ability of medical providers to provide care, arguing that training to perform miscarriages and treat ectopic pregnancies is separate from abortion even when some of the same methods or medications are used, and that complications are exceedingly rare. If Roe is overturned, “the ruling will in no way impact the training of OB/GYNs to perform medically necessary procedures nor impact our ability as OB/GYNs to treat women for complications resulting from miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy,” Dr. Ingrid Skop, senior fellow and director of medical affairs at the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute, told Forbes in an email. “To say otherwise is simply scaremongering.”

Surprising Fact

If abortion were banned nationwide in the U.S., pregnancy-related deaths would increase by approximately 7% in the first year and by an estimated 21% in subsequent years, according to research published in Demography. The study only considered the risk of mortality from continuing a pregnancy versus having a legal abortion and did not consider the impact of a potential rise in unsafe abortions.

Crucial Quote

Mohapatra told Forbes it is not necessarily going to be obvious to patients that the standard of care has changed or lessened in states banning abortion. It just will. “Medical providers in hospitals aren’t necessarily going to say ‘we aren’t going to give you this because of these laws,’” Mohapatra explained. “It’s just not going to be offered.”

News Peg

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday as part of a case concerning Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and whether states can restrict the procedure even before a fetus is viable. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the court’s opinion, which said Roe was “egregiously wrong” and argued the case should be overturned because the right to an abortion is not expressly stated in the Constitution or “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” Four justices—Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett—signed on to Alito’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a separate concurrence agreeing with the judgment and court’s the three liberal justices dissented. The decision came after Politico leaked a draft opinion from February suggesting the court would take such a step and overturn Roe entirely, prompting a wave of outcry from the abortion rights advocates and increased efforts from states to both restrict and shore up abortion access.

Chief Critic

Leading medical organizations and journals have resoundingly denounced the draft opinion signaling the Supreme Court may overturn Roe, with the American Medical Association saying the opinion “would lead to government interference in the patient-physician relationship, dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine, and potentially criminalizing care.” The organization’s House of Delegates, made up of physicians and medical students, adopted a policy in June that opposes government restrictions on reproductive healthcare like abortion and contraception, considering such bans a “violation of human rights.”

Robert Hart, Forbes Staff

Continue reading

NY Times: Uterine Cancer Is on the Rise, Especially Among Black Women

Photo from Kevin Oetiker on Unsplash.comFrom the New York Times, by Roni Caryn Rabin                            Sat, June 18, 2022, 10:06 AM

Linda Collins had been in menopause for almost a decade when she started bleeding again. The bleeding was light — occasional spotting, really — and she barely gave it a passing thought.

When she finally went in for a checkup, her doctor refused to let her leave until she underwent a biopsy. Within days, Collins learned she had cancer of the uterus — and an especially aggressive form of it.

“I had no pain, no other symptoms, and I didn’t think seriously about it,” said Collins, 64, a retiree in New York City. “That was a mistake.”

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Cancer of the uterus, also called endometrial cancer, is increasing so rapidly that it is expected to displace colorectal cancer by 2040 as the third-most-common cancer among women and the fourth-leading cause of women’s cancer deaths.

The mortality rate has been increasing by almost 2% a year overall, with even sharper spikes among Asian, Hispanic and Black women, according to a recent study in JAMA Oncology. Despite the increase, there has been little public attention to the disease.

Overall survival rates are high when uterine cancer is detected early, but few women are aware that a change in menstrual bleeding, before or after menopause, is one of the main warning signs, along with pelvic pain and painful urination and intercourse.

Uterine cancer was long believed to be less common among Black women. But newer studies have confirmed that it is not only more likely to strike Black women but also more likely to be deadly.

Black women die of uterine cancer at twice the rate of white women, according to a report in March from an expert panel convened by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The gap is one of the largest racial disparities observed for any cancer, the report said. Black women are also more likely to develop a form called non-endometrioid uterine cancer, which is more aggressive.

Among all populations, uterine cancer is being detected more often in younger women who are still in their childbearing years as well as in women who don’t have any of the known risk factors, such as obesity, infertility and never having been pregnant, said Dr. Shannon Westin, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Among all populations, uterine cancer is being detected more often in younger women who are still in their childbearing years as well as in women who don’t have any of the known risk factors, such as obesity, infertility and never having been pregnant, said Dr. Shannon Westin, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

When she first started caring for women with uterine cancer, she said, there were about 39,000 new cases a year. Now, there are more than 65,000 — and she has been in practice only 15 years.

“That’s a clear indicator we should be ringing the alarm bells,” Westin said.

Dr. Carol Brown, a gynecologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, called the surge in cases an epidemic.

“The striking statistic is that right now, in the year 2022, the number of women who will lose their lives to endometrial cancer in the U.S. is almost the same as those who will die of ovarian cancer, which is unbelievable to those of us in practice for the last 30 years,” said Brown, who is the center’s senior vice president and chief health equity officer.

The JAMA Oncology study analyzed racial trends in uterine cancer while correcting for hysterectomy rates. That’s important, because Black women have a higher rate of hysterectomies, said Megan Clarke, the lead author. (Women who have had a hysterectomy do not have a uterus, so they cannot develop endometrial cancer; including them in the calculus artificially lowers the incidence rate.)

“By making the correction for hysterectomy rates, we are more confident — the increase is real,” said Clarke, a fellow at the National Cancer Institute.

Black women represented just under 10% of the 208,587 uterine cancer cases diagnosed in the United States between 2000 and 2017, but they made up almost 18% of the nearly 16,797 uterine cancer deaths during that period, Clarke’s study found.

The uterine cancer death rate for Black women is 31.4 per 100,000 women ages 40 and older, compared with 15.2 per 100,000 for white women in the same age group, Clarke reported. (Comparable death rates for Asian American women were 9 per 100,000, and for Hispanic Americans, 12.3 per 100,000.)

That makes uterine cancer an outlier, since progress has been made toward narrowing the racial gap in death rates from most cancers over the past two decades. Another National Cancer Institute report, published in JAMA Oncology in May, found that overall, death rates from cancer have declined steadily among Black Americans between 1999 and 2019, although they continue to be higher than those of other racial and ethnic groups.

The reasons for the increase in uterine cancer cases are not well understood. The most common form, endometrioid cancer, is associated with estrogen exposure, which is higher when obesity is present, and obesity rates have been rising in the U.S.

But non-endometrioid cancer has increased in prevalence, too, and it is not linked to excess weight. Clarke’s study found that Black women are more likely to have this aggressive form of uterine cancer. They are less likely to be diagnosed early in the course of the illness, and their survival rates are worse no matter when they are diagnosed and what subtype of the cancer they have.

“At every stage of diagnosis, there are different outcomes,” said Dr. Karen Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society. “Are they getting access to the same quality of cancer care?” She has called for more research into the factors driving the trends.

The expert panel convened by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found racial and ethnic disparities in the care given to Black and Hispanic women with uterine cancer. They were less likely than white women to undergo hysterectomy, less likely to have their lymph nodes properly biopsied to see if the cancer had spread and less likely to receive chemotherapy, even for a more threatening cancer.

Adrienne Moore, a respiratory therapist who is Black and lives in the Atlanta area, was 45 when she found out she had uterine cancer, but she said it took her almost a year to obtain the diagnosis. She went from one doctor to another complaining of heavy, very painful monthly bleeding that had started after several months without periods at all.

Moore, who is now 51, was uninsured at the time, and doctors she consulted dismissed her complaints as symptoms of perimenopause or fibroids.

After Moore purchased health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, she saw a gynecologist who performed another scan. It showed a thickening of the uterine wall, which can be suggestive of cancer, and the doctor immediately ordered a biopsy.

Three days later, the doctor called her to the office. “I knew what it was then. I knew it was cancer,” Moore said.

Moore said she is alive today because she was persistent. “If your body is telling you something, you’ve got to listen to it, and then you’ve got to get other people to listen to you,” she said.

Dr. Kemi Doll, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, has been doing research for years to figure out why so many Black women die of endometrial cancer.

She has found that ultrasound scans that measure the thickness of the uterine wall are less accurate when patients have the more-lethal non-endometrioid type of uterine cancer, which is more common among Black women.

The scans are also less effective when women have uterine fibroids, which obscure the scanner’s view, she found. That may explain why Black women, many of whom suffer from uterine fibroids, are more often diagnosed later in the disease process, Doll said.

If thickening is not discovered, physicians will generally not go on to perform a biopsy to test for the cancer.

Premenopausal women who have erratic menstrual cycles may not recognize that they need to check for uterine cancer because they think of the irregularities as normal, Doll said. And women in perimenopause who expect abnormal bleeding may also not recognize when something is wrong, she said.

“We need to rethink our guidelines,” Doll said. Women who have abnormal cycles and unusual bleeding throughout their lives are at highest risk: “It is the abnormality of the cycle that increases the risk of endometrial cancer, because of the dysregulation of hormones.”

But the bigger problem, she said, is that there is so little public awareness. Women know they should have mammograms and Pap smears to screen for breast and cervical cancer.

“If someone found a lump in her breast, would she put off doing something? Everybody would tell her, ‘No, no, no, go right now,’ ” Doll said. Uterine cancer is four times as common as cervical cancer, she added, “and we have not had any national dialogue about it.”

When she gives women a diagnosis of uterine cancer, most say they have never heard of it, Doll added.

Treatment typically requires a complete hysterectomy, with surgical removal of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix. Radiation and medication therapies may also be required, depending on the stage of the disease.

Having a hysterectomy can be life-altering for young women, plunging them into surgical menopause and possibly requiring hormone treatment to manage the side effects, and disrupting the plans of those hoping to have children.

Caught early, however, uterine cancer is considered highly curable. Angelyn Jackson, a 55-year-old elementary school teacher outside Atlanta, decided last summer to resume annual checkups disrupted by the pandemic. When she reported light bleeding, her gynecologist immediately checked her for uterine cancer.

Jackson got the diagnosis July 8 and had a hysterectomy 20 days later, catching the disease at an early stage, she said. She is still being closely observed.

It has been three years since Collins’ hysterectomy and radiation therapy. She now goes out of her way to tell friends and acquaintances to immediately talk to their doctors about unusual bleeding or other symptoms like pain, bloating or sudden weight loss.

“I tell them, ‘Don’t wait; don’t wait. If it doesn’t feel right, if you don’t think it should be happening — check it out,’” Collins said. “I should have looked into it sooner.”

© 2022 The New York Times Company

Celebrating Father’s Day and Juneteenth 2022

Photo by Lawrence Crayton on Unsplash

Ladies, we hope you’re enjoying this special weekend celebrating both Father’s Day and Juneteenth. I hope you’re with the men in your life and the people who make Juneteenth an everyday reality for you.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

We are here today because of our fathers, and it’s our Sista’ friends and others who make us celebrate and thank the Lord for our freedom everyday.

Take time this weekend to think what Dr. Martin Luther King’s cry “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” means to you and your life.

Here are two more poems celebrating Juneteenth. first: Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Click here to hear Maya recite the entire poem.

 

And, next is Langston Hughes’

“I, too, Sing America” by LANGSTON HUGHES

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.
Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.