The Pink Ladies: Pamela Weems, Tadaci Johnson and Tamiko Edwards bring awareness to Breast Cancer in Black women

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Across the Twin Cities, there are several organizations and survivors celebrating awareness, survival, and honoring those who have lost the battle to breast cancer and other forms of cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Across the Twin Cities, there are several organizations and survivors celebrating awareness, survival, and honoring those who have lost the battle to breast cancer and other forms of cancer.

One organization promoting awareness and prevention- is Love Promotions led by Pamela Weems, a feisty mother of four, and a two-time survivor, beating breast cancer in 1998 and again in 2011. She has been celebrating survival and amplifying breast cancer awareness for 10 years through parties, events and her social media platforms. Weems’ goal is, “To bring awareness, specifically to the Black community because Black women [are] dying at the highest rates from breast cancer.”

On October 2, Weems and her team- Tadaci Johnson, Tamiko Edwards, and The Pink Ladies (Weems’ breast cancer awareness team)- hosted Love Promotions’, 10th Anniversary Celebration of Awareness at Moxy Minneapolis Uptown. To continue with spreading awareness, on October 8, Weems and her team hosted the PinkTober Event at the GoldRoom Restaurant and Lounge where breast cancer survivor Katrina Barnett was honored.

According to www.breastcancer.org, as of January 2021, there have been 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer across the nation. This includes those currently being treated and those have completed treatments.

The African American Breast Cancer Alliance (AABCA), located in Minneapolis, is celebrating 31 years of awareness this October. They provide the community with events, information and resources throughout the year.

Here are a few breast cancer Statistics:

About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 13%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women.Breast cancer became the most common cancer globally as of 2021, accounting for 12% of all new annual cancer cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in Black women than white women. Overall, Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer.About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to known gene mutations inherited from one’s mother or father.About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are sex (being a woman) and age (growing older).

Both Johnson (Weems’ daughter), and Edwards (a 12-year survivor) agree that “early detection really is key”. Edwards found her own breast lump while doing a self-breast exam. After discovering her lump, she scheduled an appointment with her medical provider, and was officially diagnosed on April 9, 2009. As a 12-year survivor, her recovery was not simple. It lasted “about two and a half years,” she said.

“I went through eight rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, a tram flap reconstruction surgery and 30 rounds of radiation treatment,” said Edwards. Although she puts a verbal spotlight on the importance of self-exams and prevention year-round, Edwards additionally wears a lot of pink clothing and accessories during the month of October to bring more awareness to her entire community. She brings awareness on her social media platforms as well.

Although there are many variables that can lead to breast cancer. Here are some tips for possible prevention and to decrease your risk:

Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer.Maintain a healthy weight. If your weight is healthy, work to maintain that weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to accomplish this.Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps prevent breast cancer.Breast-feed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormone therapy.

Going through the stages of cancer is not only hard on the person diagnosed, but also for the family, friends, and caregivers that love them.

Johnson said she was very sad and felt lost when she learned her mother had breast cancer. She said while Weems’ went through both of her chemotherapy treatments and recoveries, “I basically became her nurse while still taking care of my brothers who were three and twelve at the time. Self-exams are your first line of defense and a key to early detection. [Also], see your doctor and get a referral to get a mammogram. If something does not feel right, go get it checked out. The life you save could be your own,” said Johnson.

Edwards added: “Women over 40 need to get an annual mammogram exam. Also, don’t wait until October to bring awareness to the issue.”

Johnson’s advice to caregivers is to, “Keep faith in God, and make sure you are there to support your loved one physically, emotionally, and mentally. Stay positive and upbeat.”

Weems wants everyone to remember “early detection does save lives.”

If you are in the mood to celebrate strength, survival, and awareness, Weems, Johnson, Edwards, and The Pink Ladies can be found bringing awareness to breast cancer at the GoldRoom every Friday throughout the month of October.

If you are interested in more information, please visit the African American Breast Cancer Alliance at www.aabcainc.org.

Brandi D. Phillips is a freelance writer, health and wealth coach, mother of two, life partner and lover of adventure. If you have questions or comments regarding this article, you can reach her at wellifethreesixty@gmail.com.



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