Jeanette, who is a black woman, had cancer and died from it. She had cancer for about 2 years before she passed. I met her in middle school when she was volunteering to do tutoring with kids who needed help at my school. I believed my friend did not get the right treatment for her cancer because she did not have the best medical care. It was the kind of breast cancer that black women get; I suspected she might have had Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) because the rate of IBC is much higher among African Americans than whites.
Many studies from 2008 say that socioeconomic status, which indicates how rich or poor people are, accounts for differences in whether or not women die from breast cancer within a racial group for whites, Hispanics and Ssians, but not for black women. Poor white women have worse outcomes than wealthy white women, and the same is true for Asian and Hispanic women. Wealthier black women do not have much better outcomes than poorer black women. Why? If poverty does not have a big impact on black women’s mortality (death) rate, what else might?
The answer is that we still do not know. There needs to be a lot more research into African-American breast cancer because it is different than the type that other races get. The problem might be that this research is not as appealing to the people funding cancer research. According to blackdemographics.com, 27% of all African-American men, women, and children live below the poverty level compared to just 11% of all Americans. African Americans are more likely to live in poverty and are therefore less likely to have a lot of influence over how money is spent on cancer research.
Black women are more likely to die than white women; according to data from 2001-2005, their risk of death was seven times higher. Researchers say that the widening gap reflects a dramatic improvement for white women but not for blacks women. Basically, these studies are arguing that the reason that black women are suffering for this type stuff is not because of race-that the problem isn’t race but racism and how black people are being treated. According to an NPR survey, 33% of black women report that they were discriminated against because of their race when seeking health care, and 21% say that they avoid seeking health care because they were concerned about being discriminated against.
While for all the other races studied, wealthier women could afford better care, there is no “better care” for black women because nobody has invented it. Even if Jeanette had millions of dollars that still would not have solved her health care problems. I say that because it will likely take many millions of dollars and years of research to develop an effective treatment because nobody is looking for one. Nobody is looking because as Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical director for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated the system is “not valuing the lives