Every Breast Counts

stand smiling for the camera. They stand in a long, bright corridor, smiling confidently.
Every Breast Counts co-creators. L-R: Talina Higgins, Debbie Pottinger, Dawn Barker, Shireen Spencer.

In Canada, Black women may be significantly less likely than white women to access cancer screening, undergo genetic testing for cancer risk, or opt for breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy –– realities that are putting the lives of Black women at risk or reducing their quality of life following a cancer diagnosis. 

Dr. Aisha Lofters, Chair of Implementation Science at Women’s College Hospital’s Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers, in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society, says that a lack of education and awareness initiatives designed specifically with Black women in mind is a major factor preventing them from accessing life-saving care.

“Most materials and supports about cancer care are not representative of Black women or the unique experiences they often face along their cancer care journey,” says Dr. Lofters. “As a result, far too many Black women feel alienated from the health care system or ill-equipped to approach conversations about cancer care –– often until it’s too late.”

To help address this life-threatening education gap, in 2021 Dr. Lofters and her team co-created a new web-based resource hub for accurate, evidence-based, and community-relevant cancer information specifically curated for Black women, by Black women.

The hub, called Every Breast Counts, was developed in close partnership with four co-creators and The Olive Branch of Hope, a cancer survivorship and advocacy group for Black women. The webpage is now being shared broadly across the health system through policymakers, primary care physicians and community partners.

“Through Every Breast Counts, our ultimate goal is to save the lives of as many Black women as possible by sharing information that helps Black women feel heard, seen, and represented throughout their cancer care,” says Dr. Lofters.

A woman takes her blood pressure with an automated blood pressure cuff. She wears glasses, and is looking down at the machine.
A woman takes her blood pressure with an automated blood pressure cuff. She wears glasses, and is looking down at the machine.

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