With Breast Cancer Awareness Month underway, Grammy Award-winning singer, Mary J. Blige, is partnering with the Black Women's Health Imperative on the P.O.W.E.R of Sure campaign, aimed at encouraging Black women to get mammogram screenings.
Linda Goler Blount, Black Women's Health Imperative CEO, told Cheddar that the partnership is a way for the organization to reach more people and stress just how important screenings are for self-care.
"Thirty-eight years ago we formed to talk about the importance of taking care of each other, but most importantly, of self-care and screening for mammography is, in my opinion, one of the highest forms of self-care," she said.
Launched in 1983 and originally named the National Black Women's Health Project, breast cancer awareness has long been one of the causes the organization has drawn attention to, particularly as the disease is disproportionately deadly among Black women.
BWHI's 2020 campaign also includes a multi-year initiative with medical tech company Hologic Inc., which will cover screening costs and help provide a path for treatment as well as research.
This year, Blige said she was inspired to help bring awareness following a personal experience.
"I had an aunt who died from breast cancer. I believe she would still be alive today if she had access to this information, how important a mammogram is, or if she had access to the proper healthcare," Blige told Cheddar.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is particularly important this year as concerns about contracting coronavirus in public spaces resulted in a drop in mammogram screenings, Blout said.
"The last thing we need is to delay screening even further, which means that if a breast cancer is detected, it's detected later when it's less easily treated," she said. "Mammography centers, imaging centers are taking every precaution now during COVID-19 to make sure that patients are safe and their staff are safe; so, there's no reason not to go."
Blige said her priority is to empower women and arm them with the knowledge that can save their lives.
"Just like me, there's some little girl in the world, or teenager in the world, or woman in the world without this information. So, my job is to get this word out about how important this is, a mammogram is, and loving yourself from the inside out and understanding that this is a gift and that your health is your wealth," she explained.