Moffitt expands breast cancer awareness

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute has 25,000 new reasons to be happy for the next year: The center was recently awarded a $25,000 one-year grant from the Avon Foundation Breast Care Fund to promote breast cancer awareness in Tampa Bay’s Haitian community.

According to a press release from Moffitt, the breast-health community outreach program will educate Tampa Bay area Haitian women on breast health and also offer mammograms and clinical breast exam screening services.

Breast cancer affects women of all ages, and generating awareness and early detection can be the difference between life and death. According to the American Cancer Society’s 2001-2002 report, breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death among African-American women and the second most common cause of cancer death among white women.

According to the same report, 11,844 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. The National Cancer Institute states that 13.4 percent of women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Franczy Souffranz, a member of Haitians for a Better Society, knows that having people around town to support awareness will help improve breast cancer awareness.”I think it will help with awareness,” Souffranz said. “Most [Haitian women] won’t get checked out.”

Souffranz had a member of his family suffer from breast cancer and become a survivor after surgery. “The problem is people don’t talk to them about it. In order for them to know, someone has to tell them.”

Haitians have generally been grouped with the black community regarding breast cancer statistics. According to the Florida facts and figures sheet, white women are more likely than black women to develop breast cancer. However, black women under the age of 50 have higher incidence rates than white women of the same age group, and black women are more likely to die of breast cancer overall when compared to white women. Breast cancer ranks second only to lung cancer as the most likely cause for cancer death among black women.

“Many factors, such as fear, keep women from practicing good breast health,” Marlene Rivera, coordinator of Community Education and Outreach at Moffitt, said in the press release. “There is a tremendous need to reach women with information and resources. We are grateful that the Avon Foundation shares this mission and has chosen to support our program.”

According to the Moffitt press release, Avon has raised and returned more than $350,000,000 in breast cancer research, and the grant marks the first donation the foundation has made to Moffitt toward breast cancer awareness in the Haitian community.