Skip to content

Kenya V Beard

Living Life Before, During and After Breast Cancer

By Kenya V Beard

August 24, 2017

Image from the NIEH

“You have breast cancer” are four words that no one ever wants to hear. However, more than three million people have heard these words before and in 2017, at least a ¼ million more will hear it. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer occurs in approximately one in eight women and is the most common invasive cancer. Following lung cancer, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The risk of death increases when the tumor spreads beyond the walls of the breast. African Americans tend to have a higher breast cancer mortality rate, even though white women over the age of 50 have a higher incidence. There is a multitude of factors that contribute to breast cancer disparities. However, breast cancer is no longer inextricably linked to death. Many women survive.

Jamie Philippe believed her breast cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. On Living Beyond Breast Cancer, she revealed how the disease disrupted her life and left her jobless, homeless, and without a car. Although the disease didn’t kill her, it shattered her livelihood. Jamie returned to work three years post diagnosis, a double mastectomy, and financial hardship. Now she is counted among breast cancer survivors. Novel ways to eradicate and treat breast tumors have emerged. However, more must be done to assist women with managing the sequelae of this horrific disease.

The fear of breast cancer is a reality for many women (it can also occur in men). Women should understand what they can do to decrease their risk for breast cancer and who should be screened. What’s more, women should know their options.

I reached out to Dr. Ted James, the Chief of Breast Surgical Oncology and Co-Director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Breast Care Center and asked him about plausible ways to decrease the risk for breast cancer. Dr. James discussed modifiable risk factors and why screening guidelines are not so simple. He also discussed the role of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in improving breast cancer outcomes and his concerns about the ACA appeal. The ACA has benefited many women by providing genetic counseling, free preventive counseling, mammograms, removing coverage limits and ensuring that breast cancer survivors are covered for pre-existing conditions. Dr. James described what is being done to help women manage the disease and improve outcomes. His center employs nurse navigators who help women work through the complex treatment decisions and challenges that often accompany a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Breast cancer statistics can be changed. Click the link below to listen to the interview with Dr. Ted James hear his response to what women should know about breast cancer. Know your risk, what you can do to decrease your risk, when and how you should be screened, what to expect from your provider, and what is currently being done to eradicate breast cancer.

Share your story and tell us what you believe everyone should know about breast cancer.

 

Kenya V Beard

What Does the Health Care Bill Mean to You?

By Kenya V Beard

July 6, 2017

Chronic Conditions

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all adults are living with one or more chronic health conditions and the rate continues to climb. Chances are you or a family member has been diagnosed with a chronic condition that requires medical management. Over 20 million people have diabetes and eight million are unaware that they have this disease. Obesity, which affects one out of three adults, increases one’s risk for diabetes. Individuals with diabetes constitute the largest percentage of patients who experience kidney failure and subsequently require dialysis. Asthma, a more recognizable condition, affects one in twelve people. Asthma is not age specific and children who have asthma were more likely to seek medical attention three or more times in a 12-month period. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. To manage hypertension and reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, some individuals must take up to four medications. The rate of cancer is not too far behind heart disease and over ½ million cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy each year. The effects of chemotherapy beget a new set of health problems.

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of disability and account for most of the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care expenditure. How will the health care bill affect you and your ability to manage chronic conditions? Do you know if your premiums will go up or if your pre-existing condition will be covered? Two months ago, the House narrowly passed their rendition of a new health care bill. Although the bill was touted as “political suicide” by

Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York, some were ecstatic about the win. Republican Pete Sessions calls the new health care plan  “The World’s Greatest Health Care Plan Act of 2017”. Initially, President Trump agreed with Mr. Sessions and stated that the bill was “incredibly well crafted”. More recently, CNN stated that Trump switched his position and referenced the House health care bill as “mean”.

With the ongoing polarizing debates about the new health care bill, many are wondering what the bill truly means. To help us better understand the implications of the House bill, Sonja Nesbit, the Senior Government Relations Director at Arent Fox, LLP in Washington DC, explains the basics of the bill. Sonja is well versed on the Affordable Care Act and what Americans stand to gain and lose following an ACA repeal.

Will you be placed in the high-risk group for health care coverage and have to pay higher health insurance premiums? Will you or a loved one have to choose between paying for health care coverage or housing? Or, will you represent one of the several millions who will lose health insurance altogether? Click on the link below to hear Sonja’s brief summary of the bill. She clears up many misconceptions about the bill, describes what it means on an individual level and discusses state implications.

 

 

Kenya V Beard

What Does It Take to Improve Societal Health?

By Kenya V Beard

May 4, 2017

 


Chances are you have or you know someone who has asthma, hypertension or diabetes. These are serious illnesses that raise morbidity and mortality rates. Medicine alone is not enough to manage these conditions. To start, individuals should eat healthy foods, avoid cigarette smoke, have access to jobs, health care, and safe communities.

 

But what if you live in a community where there is no grocery store, the air quality is poor, or the unemployment and poverty rates are so high, health is no longer a priority? These conditions are just a few of the realities that impact health for so many individuals. For example, the Morrisania section of the Bronx was once called a “food desert”; a place where grocery stores did not exist and access to fresh fruits and vegetables was inadequate. So exactly how could one eat healthier? In New York, there are some midtown districts where the air quality is at unacceptable levels. What affect does that have on individuals who have asthma and work in those areas? Lastly, there is a direct relationship between poverty and health. Individuals in poor households tend to have worse health outcomes for reasons beyond their control.

 

How do we improve the health of our society when we know that a prescription for medication does not translate to healthier food on the table, better air quality or employment? What are the lessons learned from our past that can be used to inform our future?

 

In the book, Out in the Rural: A Mississippi Health Center and Its War on Poverty, Dr. Thomas J. Ward takes us back to the early 1960’s to explore the triumphs and challenges faced by Dr. H. Jack Geiger and others who established the first rural community health center in the United States, the Tufts-Delta Health Center. The Center was established during a time when many African Americans were denied access to health care. When health care was accessible, they had to use the back door, wait in separate rooms or were expected to tell the doctor what their problem was because some doctors refused to touch them. In addition, since emergency care required immediate payment, some died on the hospital steps. Some communities in Mississippi faced astonishing health care challenges that led to the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country. But that was all about to change.

 

Tune in to HealthCetera to hear the conversation with Diana Mason, Kenya Beard, and the author of Out in the Rural: A Mississippi Health Center and Its War on Poverty, Dr. Thomas J. Ward. Find out how the Tufts-Delta Health Center addressed the social determinants of health, provided comprehensive health care, and improved the health of a community. Indeed, the lessons learned 50 years ago could still be used today. So tune in on Thursday, May 11th at 1:00 PM to WBAI, 99.5 FM in NYC or streaming at www.wbai.org. 

Kenya V Beard