(Speaking Our African American Realities).
Our Community + Academic Research Partnership
The Facts Don’t Lie.
We fully understand that cancer doesn’t care about age, sex, culture, class, education, wealth or any points in between. If you are human, you are at risk of developing cancer. However, the fact remains that Black women suffer and die more than any other ethnic group, nearly twice the mortality rate compared to non-Latina white women.
Project SOAR (Speaking Our African American Realities) is a transformative initiative that delves deep into the breast cancer context, specifically focusing on the Strong Black Woman schema. This schema encompasses historically rooted expectations for African American women to prioritize caregiving over self-care, suppress emotions, present an image of strength, decline support, and strive for success even without adequate resources.
We believe if we improve cancer outcomes for Black women — by default — all women will benefit. Our research efforts are designed to create better outcomes for Black women diagnosed with breast cancer. This includes spearheading our own clinical trials, analyzing data from our various programs and initiatives, and supporting research that is designed for us and by us.
Under the leadership of co-principal investigators Tammie Denyse and Annette Stanton, Carrie’s TOUCH organized “Gatherings” with African American breast cancer survivors. These Gatherings, which can be described as culturally-curated focus groups, were designed to:
Explore the Strong Black Woman schema in the context of breast cancer.
Offer participants immediate benefits, in addition to monetary compensation.
The participants, Black women aged between 30 to 94 years, shared their personal experiences, definitions, and perceptions of the Strong Black Woman concept, especially during their breast cancer journey.
The feedback from the Gatherings was overwhelmingly positive:
• Participants found the discussions around the Strong Black Woman concept and its relevance to their experiences highly meaningful.
• They valued the opportunity to share their unique breast cancer stories.
• The importance of connecting with other African American survivors and having an all-Black space was emphasized.
• Post-Gathering, many participants reported practicing more self-care, feeling empowered to converse with their doctors, and setting boundaries by saying “no” to things they’d rather not do.
The Gatherings highlighted a crucial insight: Many participants felt that their oncologic teams expected them to fit the Strong Black Woman mold, especially in terms of not needing support.
This conclusion not only validates the need for the development of ethnocentric clinical care pathways to provide optimal and holistic oncologic care to Black women — it reinforces the critical importance of the work we do at Carrie’s TOUCH.
We are grateful for the support from the California Breast Cancer Research Program and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Special acknowledgment goes to the brave women who participated in the Gatherings and Teri McClanahan, an early member of the Project SOAR team.
For more information on Project SOAR, contact email@example.com.
Rev. Dr. Tammie Denyse
Dr. Annette L. Stanton
Phone: 310-825-2288; 310-825-3105