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Cancer doesn't discriminate but for black women, though they are less likely to get breast cancer, they are more likely to die from it.
That statistic has more women, both patients and doctors on a renewed mission to spread awareness.
Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney says she just had a feeling that she would get breast cancer even though it doesn't run in her family.
"My mom passed in April and I'm telling you after she passed I said, 'I bet I get breast cancer,' and I did."
Two months later, Kearney, publisher of the Cincinnati Herald Newspaper was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.
Dr. Karyn Dyehouse, who specializes in oncology, says 20 to 25 percent of her patients are black and by the time many of them are diagnosed they need more aggressive forms of treatment.
"In general African-American women often present with a more advanced breast cancer, greater stage, larger tumors."
Kearney says more women need to know they have choices and shouldn't be afraid to get second opinions.
"A friend of mine who's a nurse was saying he finds with a lot of black women, I don't know if this is anecdotal or statistical, but they're not always given the option of aggressive therapy. It's really important to look at all your options."
MaryCatherine Alley was diagnosed last year with stage one breast cancer, but knowing the statistics and the risks she chose to have both breasts removed. Doctors found pre-cancerous cells in what they thought was a healthy breast.
Now healthy, she volunteers at the American Cancer Society Wig Salon at Jewish Hospital, which provides a free wig to cancer patients.
"If you want to be a survivor you have to put yourself first, and not on the back burner."
Researchers think so many black women develop aggressive breast cancer because of a gene abnormality. Now they're working to identify it.
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