| Investigative

Breast Cancer: A Journey For Recovery

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.

Researchers study why breast cancer strikes white, black women differently
Minnie Ruth Stoutamire wasn’t much for physicians. Like generations of black women leery of medical experiments, hospitals making money off human suffering and coarse bedside ...

Cancer survivors’ stories show strength, tell tales of learning what’s truly important
If you want a sob story, look elsewhere. Not that women don’t cry when breast cancer strikes. The news can crush them, twist their lives ...

Pitt research could slow triple-negative breast cancer
Cell research at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute could slow an especially virulent form of breast cancer that disproportionately strikes black and younger women, ...

Oncologist says dismissive, unresponsive attitude could signal need for new physician
Darshell Bennett had just left work when her doctor dropped the bomb. She had breast cancer, he announced brusquely over the phone as she drove. A ...

Family, support groups get women through breast cancer ordeal
Sylvia Lowery-Lewis rarely goes alone to chemotherapy. Her husband and a daughter tag along when she sits for as long as six hours with a ...

Physical trial of radiation therapy, chemo mirrored by emotional toll
“Cure” is a loaded term in the breast-cancer world. Professionals discussing therapy typically don’t use the word, said Dr. Jane M. Raymond, an oncologist at Allegheny ...

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About the team

Jasmine Goldband
Jasmine Goldband joined the Tribune-Review full-time in 2004 after working as a summer intern and graduating from Point Park University with a degree in photojournalism. She has won regional and national photography contests. She and her husband, David, live in the Mexican War Streets in Pittsburgh's North Side.
Adam Smeltz
Adam Smeltz joined the Tribune-Review in May 2012 as a general assignment reporter. He worked for newspapers in central Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. A son and grandson of Allegheny County natives, he graduated from Penn State University in 2005 and lives in the Mexican War Streets in Pittsburgh's North Side.