While cancer support organizations can’t eliminate these disparities, the social support network they offer can play a crucial role in helping women navigate and overcome them, says Renee Cowan, MD, MPH, MSc, a gynecologic oncologist at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA. “This can be an impactful area for cancer support organizations to contribute to,” Dr. Cowan says.
Among other benefits, these organizations can foster connection, and “there is a lot to be gained from networking with other women who have faced similar situations and diagnoses,” Cowan says. “These bonds … can help Black women navigate confusing healthcare systems that are not necessarily designed to be easily navigated, and they can grant Black women exposure to tools and resources that may improve the quality of their care and the course of their journey [with cancer].”
Here are seven of the best cancer support organizations for Black women.
1. Sisters Network Inc.
A national organization with about 25 survivor-run affiliate chapters across the country, Sisters Network Inc. works to improve Black women’s access to mammograms, quality breast cancer care, and resources and information about the disease. They host events such as an in-person annual fundraising walk and educational webinars, and provide a breast cancer fact sheet, questions to ask your doctors, and a glossary of relevant medical terms on their website. Sisters Network Inc. offers a financial assistance program for women in active treatment for breast cancer. As part of this program, the organization also provides mammograms at no cost for underserved and uninsured women.
2. African American Breast Cancer Alliance (AABCA)
Founded more than 30 years ago, the African American Breast Cancer Alliance promotes breast health awareness in Black communities; creates culturally specific educational materials; and offers programs such as a virtual support group via Zoom for Black women and men diagnosed with breast cancer, an annual retreat for female survivors of all backgrounds and cultures impacted by any type of cancer, and financial assistance to help with non-medical expenses for Black/African American patients in active treatment and diagnosed within the past 30 months.
3. Carrie's TOUCH
Carrie’s TOUCH provides connection, community, and support for Black women diagnosed with breast cancer through support groups and their free app Survive and Thrive, which includes a newly diagnosed feature; meditations, affirmations, and reminders for breast cancer survivors; access to support groups and videos; directories of financial resources, oncologists of color, and free and low-cost therapy options; and other resources.
4. Endometrial Cancer Action Network for African-Americans (ECANA)
In addition to hosting a biweekly virtual gathering on Zoom for Black women who’ve been diagnosed with endometrial cancer, the Endometrial Cancer Action Network for African-Americans features survivors’ stories and research updates on their website. There’s also an education section, which includes a glossary of key terms, an overview of the diagnosis and treatment of endometrial cancer, a list of the types of healthcare providers you can expect to have on your treatment team, and questions to ask your doctors along with printable worksheets to bring to medical appointments, chemotherapy, and surgery.
5. For the Breast of Us (FTBOU)
For the Breast of Us offers many ways for women of color to connect with other breast cancer survivors through their vibrant, supportive community. Their Breast Cancer Baddie Directory provides an opportunity to connect with other individuals, as does their private Facebook group for women of color. Women can also follow the organization on Instagram @forthebreastodus, attend virtual or in-person events , and listen to their podcast Baddie 2 Baddie , available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other streaming platforms.
6. SHARE Cancer Support
While SHARE Cancer Support is dedicated to all women affected by breast, ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers, the organization offers a wide range of cancer programming specifically tailored to Black women. These programs address critical areas where there aren’t a lot of available resources nationwide, such as a monthly virtual support group for Black women living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), and a support group for women of African descent with ovarian and/or breast cancer, as well as a group for those with uterine cancer.
7. Tigerlily Foundation
Though the Tigerlily Foundation serves women of all backgrounds, the organization deliberately seeks to include those who face health disparities and have less access to care, like women of color. Through their clinical trials initiative, Tigerlily Foundation works to increase the participation of women of color in breast cancer clinical trials, and they have a few different clinical trial search tools on their website that help women in treatment find clinical trials that are right for them. Additionally, they provide a robust selection of helpful resources on their website, such as downloadable “Barrier Toolkits” on topics like self-advocacy in medical settings, health literacy for patients, getting culturally competent care, and more.