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The Daily Tar Heel

Breast cancer ‘plague(s) the minority community at large’

The Black Student Movement hosted Sharon Melvin Wednesday night.

Members of the Black Student Movement release balloons in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month Wednesday afternoon in the SASB courtyard.  Members wrote message such as "stay strong" and "just keep fighting" on the balloons to be released in the sky.
Members of the Black Student Movement release balloons in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month Wednesday afternoon in the SASB courtyard. Members wrote message such as "stay strong" and "just keep fighting" on the balloons to be released in the sky.

The Black Student Movement’s minority health and health disparities committee held the event Wednesday evening, coinciding with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The event was headlined by UNC graduate Sharon Melvin, who spoke on warning signs and behaviors that increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Shadai Mcmillan, co-chairwoman of the minority health and health disparities committee in the Black Student Movement, said the group wanted to raise awareness of the condition’s effect on people of many different backgrounds.

“We plan to highlight key health issues that not only plague the black community, but plague the minority community at large as well,” Mcmillan said. “We want to raise awareness being that this is obviously a very prevalent issue across the board for all women and some men as well.”

About 40,000 women and 430 men are expected to die from this condition in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society.

Black women are also more likely to die from breast cancer than white women are, Mcmillan said, but she stressed there is hope for those diagnosed with the condition.

“There are 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States and a 100 percent survival rate for women with stage one breast cancer,” Mcmillan said.

Melvin is the former chairwoman of the board of the Auxiliary to the National Medical Association, a nonprofit dedicated to workforce diversity in the scientific and health care fields.

She said avoiding certain behaviors can limit the risk of developing the condition.

“In general, the more you age, the greater your risk for breast cancer becomes,” Melvin said. “Large alcohol consumption, being overweight and obese and not participating in physical activity also increase the risks of breast cancer.”

Melvin also touched on the ways to check for warning signs that may indicate breast cancer. Women should conduct monthly self-breast examinations, as well as have clinical breast exams done by professionals as they age in order to detect unusual lumps on their bodies. Early detection for breast cancer is the best kind of protection, she said.

Freshman Brianna Peterkin said the event was important to her personally.

“I came to this event not only because I am a BSM member, but also because I think breast cancer awareness is extremely crucial,” Peterkin said. “I have had relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I personally think it is very important for people of all ages to be informed of the risks associated with it.”

Peterkin said the awareness dedicated to the condition should occur throughout the year.

“Breast cancer shouldn’t just be a month.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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