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The Rose helps African-American women beat breast cancer

October 3, 2018

The Rose Takes Center Stage is slated for Sunday, Oct. 7, at The Ensemble Theatre and will encourage African-American women to fight breast cancer through taking care of their breast health.

In 2017, breast cancer nonprofit The Rose provided services including mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies to 5,552 African-American women, according to Chris Noble, director of corporate and business relations. Of those, she said said 733 were uninsured, and 62 learned received a breast cancer diagnosis and may not have received care otherwise.

Noble and Kim Roxie, owner and CEO of Lamik Beauty, worked together to start The Rose Takes Center Stage event five years ago. The event was previously called The Rose at The Ensemble. Roxie got involved with The Rose when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at a mobile unit that came to her church.

Roxie’s mother passed away from the disease in October 2014, but Roxie doubts they would have gotten to spend as much time together if not for The Rose. Now, she said helping other African-American women get breast health services is part of her mother’s legacy.

“The Rose has given me an avenue to save other women’s lives,” she said. “It’s important to me that I can create something positive out of losing my mother, so that she didn’t die in vain. Instead, I can use what we learned together to change outcomes.”

Noble said African-American women across the nation get diagnosed with breast cancer 45 percent more than other groups, and in Houston, that number jumps to 60 percent.

A few factors are thought to be behind more African-American women dying from breast cancer. First, according to the American Cancer Society, financial barriers to detection and screening services and cancer treatment options play a large role.

Another study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed another cause is that African-American women have higher breast density than Caucasian women, making visual detection of cancer more difficult.

Also, genetics may play a role: studies by the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society reveal that younger African-American women are more likely to have aggressive “triple negative” tumors, which do not respond as well to standard treatments, producing poorer survival rates.

Roxie said while African-American women are busy, they need to make their own health a priority.

“The to-do list for an African-American woman is long on a daily basis, yet they can’t do any of those tasks to the best of their ability if their own health isn’t at the top of that list,” she said. “That’s especially true considering the startling statistics on black women and their risk of earlier and more aggressive breast cancer.”

The Rose Takes Center Stage will feature a reception, refreshments, door prizes and a production of the play “Da Kink in My Hair.”

“’Da Kink in My Hair’ is a humorous and poignant play set in a Caribbean hair salon. It is told with drumming, singing and dance as it explores the stories of eight African-American women,” Roxie said. “Both our event and this play seek to give the stories of African-American women a voice, creating insight into their experience, joy, frustration, loss and love.”

Noble said the event is important because it brings attention to an important part of African-American women’s health and will also raise money to help patients get the care they need.

“It not only raises funds for mammograms, but sheds light on the terrible statistics regarding survival and early disease development for African-American women,” Noble said. “Put simply: more are made aware, more lives are saved, and new friends are made in the process.”

The Rose Takes Center Stage will be held 1:30-5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7, at The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 S. Main St. For more information or tickets, visit www.therose.org/event/the-rose-takes-center-stage. For further questions, email cnoble@therose.org. To learn more about The Rose and its services, visit www.therose.org.

tracy.maness@hcnonline.com

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