Marie Zoutomou-Quintanilla, a breast cancer survivor, at American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Los Angeles. (Courtesy photo)

The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Los Angeles is back on Saturday, October 21, at 9 a.m., at Citadel Outlets in Commerce.

According to a spokesperson, the event celebrates courage and hope as well as the movement uniting communities to end breast cancer or everyone.

Many structural and social factors can impact a person’s ability to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. These include such examples as racial residential segregation, poverty, lack of access to healthy and affordable foods, or inadequate pay, housing, or access to transportation.

It’s important to understand that personal responsibility and making healthy choices is only one part of someone’s overall health.  Even if the breast cancer death rate dropped 43% from its peak in 1989 because of earlier detection and improved treatments, there’s a need to continue educating minorities whose mortality is higher than their white peers.

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Chandra Heyman, a volunteer for the American Cancer Society who also makes keepsake blankets for patients facing cancer and chronic illnesses, is no strange to cancer. Her family has been impacted by cancer with different relatives being now survivors while unfortunately losing her aunt to cancer this past April.

As an administrative professional in the healthcare industry for over 25 years, she mentions trust is vital for minorities including the Black community to do their routine screenings. “People can’t always take time off work, although they should do for their own health,” said Herman in talking about the barriers to care for Black Americans.

Recipients of Chandra’s keepsake blankets at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Los Angeles 2022. (Courtesy photo)

The American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network are deepening their efforts to address health equity through research, programs, services, and advocacy. The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer movement raises lifesaving funds that support breast cancer patients, survivors, thrivers, and caregivers through every step of the journey and the participation of marginalized communities facilitates these same communities taking advantage of resources available to them.

Some of these programs include one-on-one breast cancer patient support services through in addition to the 24/7 helpline (1-800-227-2345) that provide cancer information specialists, nurse support, and health insurance assistance service.

Black women are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than White women overall and are twice as likely to die if they are younger than age 50. Marie Zoutomou-Quintanilla is a 12-year breast cancer survivor and volunteer at the American Cancer Society with events such as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay For Life. She truly believes in the need to address the significant disparities affecting Black communities including barriers to early detection, access to quality treatment, and differences in survival rates.

At the same time, Marie believes in the positive impact of American Cancer Society patient programs that she has witnessed making this the most rewarding aspect of her volunteer work.

Zoutomou-Quintanilla emphasizes “the importance of unity and support within the community. Together, we can make a significant difference in the fight against cancer.” She also brings attention to “the critical importance of early detection, regular screenings, and access to quality care. Knowledge is power, and together, we can overcome disparities in cancer outcomes.”

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