Researchers intent on better understanding cervical and breast cancer and finding more efficient treatments for these diseases owe much to Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose sampled cells, dubbed “HeLa” cells, have been utilized in countless studies to arrive at many of today’s available anticancer treatment options. To commemorate Lacks’ birthday, Komen California recently proclaimed August 1st as “Circle of Promise Day”, which opens a network among African-American women seeking information on the risk, management, and prevention of cancer.
“Yet, African-American women in the United States continue to die of diseases like breast cancer, at rates significantly higher than their white counterparts…This is unacceptable,” said Dr. Judy Salerno, CEO of Susan G. Komen®. Together with the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), the author the Circle of Promise Day Initiative, Susan G. Komen “will honor Mrs. Lacks’ memory, by redoubling its commitment to end these differences in outcomes for African-American women.”
“The California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) is also pleased to stand with Susan G. Komen and its Affiliates to commemorate August 1st as ‘Circle of Promise Day’ on Henrietta Lacks’ birthday, an African-American woman, who lost her life to cervical cancer but whose contributions to science have gone on to save the lives of millions,” said Assembly Member Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Chair of the CLBC. “There is no other day more appropriate for African-American women to take the ‘promise pledge’ as a commitment to improving their breast health and the health of those in their circle,” says Mr. Jones-Sawyer.
On August 1, 2015, Komen California affiliates from San Francisco down to San Diego will be holding one-of-a-kind events, wherein attendees can make “promise pledges” at 12 noon to actively urge at least 10 women in their “circle” to undergo screening and take proactive steps in cervical and breast health. The Circle of Promise Day primarily aims to: 1) develop a higher level of breast health self-awareness and literacy among African-American women; 2) change the mindset among African-American women from that of fear, avoidance, and denial, to one of empowerment; and 3) drive the behavior change needed to enable African-American women to become their own breast health advocates.
Rhonda M. Smith, the Project Manager for Circle of Promise California Initiative, said this annual commemorative event aims to boost public awareness on the importance of availing of annual screening, and create an open community of information sharing and activity among women in the circle.