The singer/songwriter, wife and mother of three says the current statistics of Black women impacted by cervical cancer “must change.”
Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter and philanthropist Ciara penned a beautiful letter calling for Black women to “champion a new narrative” when it comes to cervical cancer. “As we conclude Cervical Health Awareness Month and enter Black History Month, we should use this moment to prioritize our self-care by taking action to protect our health and encouraging others to do the same,” wrote Ciara for NBC News THINK.
Photo: NBC News
Ciara noted that Black women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than white women due to “health care disparities, systemic racism and long-held inequities.” A recent study (pdf) found the five-year survival rate for Black women diagnosed with of cervical cancer is 56 percent compared to 68 percent for white women because Black women are more likely to be diagnosed at more advanced stages. In her letter, Ciara expresses that while cervical cancer is among the most preventable cancers, “it is among the most treatable” when detected and diagnosed early.
After witnessing a member of her team win her battle against cervical cancer, Ciara became an ambassador for the #CervingConfidence social media campaign in partnership with Black Women’s Health Imperative and Hologic’s Project Health Equality last year. “The good news is that she prioritized her self-care and got screened,” Ciara said of her friend. “The even better news is that because of early detection, her cancer was treatable, and today she is thriving. Like her, we can all begin to rewrite the narrative by making sure that self-care includes cervical care.”
In her letter, Ciara pushes Black women to see self-care beyond “just spa days, me-time and trips to the makeup counter” but as a prioritization of physical and mental health. “We can’t be our best for those we love if we aren’t honoring ourselves from the inside out. The truth is self-care is the best care.”
The wife and mother of three encouraged readers to follow the standard medical advice of scheduling a regular Pap test from ages 21- 29 and the Pap and HPV tests together beginning at their 30th birthday, explaining that the “Pap test finds changes to the cervix that can be addressed before they lead to cervical cancer” while HPV exams identify “the presence of the human papillomavirus, which can also lead to cancer.”
As she empowered readers, Ciara shared that motherhood made health a greater priority for her. “Life is so precious, and I cherish all of the priceless moments with family and friends. It’s important to take charge of our health to make sure we are around for them.” Ciara believes Black women have the power to rewrite our story concerning cervical cancer and create a blueprint for the next generation.
“We need to ‘level up’ our conversations about health and address disparities to help create better health equity for the next generation for whom we are role models,” she wrote. “That’s the world I want to help create for my daughter.”
Candice Marie Benbow is theGrio’s daily lifestyle, education and health writer. She’s also the author of Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @candicebenbow.
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