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Sisters Network Hosts a Breast Cancer Conference


The Sisters Network National African American Breast Cancer 10-City National Conference Tour made its stop in Greensboro on June 24 to spread awareness about the disease.

The Sisters Network Greensboro affiliate chapter hosted the event at the Sheraton Convention Center. The National Sisters Network Inc., began in 1994 and has more than 40 chapters in the U.S. The Greensboro chapter was chartered on July 27, 2010.

Conference attendees received information on breast cancer treatment options and issues related to survivorship. The unique part of The Sisters Network is that the group is survivor-run, but includes a large number of women who have never been diagnosed with breast cancer and are called associate members. The group helps to provide free mammogram screenings to women who are uninsured, support services through transportation and participants volunteer to go with women to get their treatments as well as attending health fairs to disseminate information to survivors and caregivers.

The goal is to reach women wherever they may be along the continuum of care, from prevention/early detection to survivorship beyond treatment. Among prevention, the group also encourages women to get a second opinion on a diagnosis.

“We do a lot of outreach to promote awareness because a lot of people don’t realize that African American women have the highest death rate for breast cancer,” said Nora Jones, president of the Sisters Network Greensboro, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.

“Even if we don’t die our outcomes aren’t as good as White women who have similar manifestations of the disease,” Jones added.

According to the National Cancer Institute, in the United States, White women have the highest incidence rate for breast cancer at 132.5 per 100,000 women compared to 118.3 for African American women, although African American/Black women are most likely to die from the disease at a rate of 33.8 per 100,000 women compared to 25.0 of White women.

Conference guest speakers included Vinay Kumar Gudena, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Cancer Research at Cone Health Cancer Center in Greensboro, who led an informational session on Metastatic vs. Recurrent Breast Cancer; Catherine Harvey Sevier, RN DrPH, former Cancer Center Director at the Medical University of South Carolina gave a presentation on cancer clinical trials; and three-year breast cancer survivor Rev. Cynthia Barnes-Phipps, who shared her battle with the disease.

Phipps was diagnosed in 2013 and although a double mastectomy was recommended, she decided on a hormonal and naturopathic protocol for her treatment through the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Chicago, IL.

“My prayer was to not have surgery of any kind,” said Phipps, who added her treatment consisted of boosting her immune system which required a diet of herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, vitamin supplements and essential oils.

Phipps noted that conference was a great way to keep people positive while going through a serious illness like cancer, while also spreading awareness.

“You never go back to how you were living before cancer, but I hope that we all are able to retrieve those nuggets that will help us have the best quality of life for as long as possible, as optimal as possible,” she said.

The Sisters Network Greensboro is gearing up for its next big event, The Gift for Life Block Walk that will be held on September 30, at Windsor Center Recreation Center from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.