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Journey For Recovery

| Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, 12:05 p.m.
Sharon Herring-Turner, 61 of Perry Hilltop, a stage two breast cancer survivor, completes paperwork before receiving a mammogram at Allegheny General Hospital.  'I think if you want to live, you should do what they tell you to do,' she said of doctors. 'They're the ones who have the M.D. behind their names.'
Jasmine Goldband  |  Tribune-Review
Sharon Herring-Turner, 61 of Perry Hilltop, a stage two breast cancer survivor, completes paperwork before receiving a mammogram at Allegheny General Hospital. 'I think if you want to live, you should do what they tell you to do,' she said of doctors. 'They're the ones who have the M.D. behind their names.' Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review

The billion-dollar campaign for pink is about to claim center stage.

October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, one of America's highest-profile and most lucrative public health campaigns. Charities and consumer-product companies raise up to $6 billion a year for breast cancer research, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Yet for all the publicity, little attention focuses on gaping racial divides in diagnoses and deaths from the disease.

Death rates among black women substantially lead other groups, even though doctors more often diagnose white women.

Black women are “most likely to be diagnosed at a later stage,” when breast cancer becomes more deadly, said Kathy Purcell, executive director for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Pittsburgh chapter.

Breast cancer is more likely to appear in black women under age 40, according to the nonprofit Komen foundation.

Struck by such disparities, the Tribune-Review worked since March to explore trends and the research addressing them.

Though men can contract breast cancer, women comprise most patients and survivors. Their stories are critical to fostering awareness and education, Purcell said.

“Having women talk about their experiences is extremely helpful,” she said.

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