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Breast Cancer Patients Need Support Too: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This month is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and A. Rose NFP took the time to interview one of our highlighted 2019 Community Impact Leaders Christa Carter- Williams.

Carole's Faith Foundation, NFP, originally known as Big Girl Faith Foundation, was founded by Christa's mother Carole Marlene Carter. Carole's Faith Foundation, NFP fulfills its mission by assisting individuals battling breast cancer to have an easier day to day life whether it's by paying a medical bill, picking up and paying for groceries or providing transportation to and from doctors' appointments.

Christa helped A. Rose NFP answer a few helpful questions on the topic of breast

cancer and how our communities can become better supporters or advocates for friends and family that are going through breast cancer treatment.

Follow Christa Carter-Williams on

Q1. In February 2019, A Rose NFP had the pleasure of getting to know more about you and your organization Carole’s Faith Foundation, NFP where your mission is to help breast cancer patients or survivors financially with important everyday necessities. You shared with us that your mom Carole M. Carter was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Prior to her diagnosis, looking back do you remember if your mom expressed feeling any symptoms in relation to breast cancer? If not and if possible, please share with us how you believe she felt physically and mentally prior to her diagnosis. Christa Carter-Williams: My mom experienced many symptoms prior to her diagnoses and this is where she taught many to be their own advocate concerning their healthcare. Months before the official diagnoses she experienced pain in her chest. She was told a couple of wrong diagnoses including lupus. None of these sat well with her and she got a third opinion when she noticed the pain still did not go away. it was here that she received her diagnosis of breast cancer. Q2. When seeking medical services, it can be hard for the Black Community to navigate the health care world. Sometimes we are fearful and mistrustful of the systems in place particularly in health care because of personal past experiences or experiences heard from friends and family. The doctor-patient relationship is important when engaging with all health professionals apart of your health care team. From your point of view, how was your mother’s doctor-patient relationship experience during cancer treatment? Is there any advice you could give individuals supporting a relative or friend with breast cancer in regards to assisting their loved one through the doctor-patient relationship dynamic? Christa Carter-Williams: My mother’s oncologist was excellent. She worked hard to find a doctor that she was comfortable with and that she truly trusted. If you are supporting someone going through breast cancer the best thing you can do is be another listening ear and to also ask any question that you can think of. If you do not understand something, speak up! And write everything down. Showing the doctor that you are there and you mean business will set a precedent of respect for how one is treated during visits. Q3. From the outside looking in as a supporter of a friend and family member going to breast cancer treatment or in remission, it can be hard to truly understand the challenges and barriers cancer patients face. From your experience with your mother and serving cancer patients/survivors through your non-profit organization, what are some challenges cancer patients face that we may not notice as a community and should be more aware of? How can we lend a helping hand to reduce stress? Christa Carter-Williams: As my organization is striving to help breast cancer patients and survivors financially, this will always be my answer until it is not an issue. Also, I have noticed that our community tends to forget the lasting effects that it has on patients once they are officially survivors. Just because the cancer is gone it does not mean the bills are gone. So many are left with debt and not just medical debt, but debt they may have put off to pay for treatments and the high cost of insurance. These survivors also may put off follow up appointments and preventive appointments because of the financial burdens. Helping patients and survivors pay for everyday needs will not only relieve stress but also may help save a life. Q4. How important is it for breast cancer patients to have a strong support system during their treatment process?

Christa Carter-Williams: Having a strong support system is very important. There are some aspects of the breast cancer journey that one cannot go through alone. From diagnoses through treatment and even through the survivorship a support system will get you through!

Q5. Free Thought Space: Please feel free to add any additional comments or tips that you feel will be helpful to our readers related to breast cancer awareness or your non-profit organization.

Christa Carter-Williams:

A. Be your own advocate and also have an advocate with you whether it’s a family member or a professional. B. Get a second and third opinion and to ask every question you can C. Gather a strong support system and ask for help when you need it D. Do not be afraid to take preventative measures like getting a mammogram as it hurts far less than finding out you have stage 4  recast cancer and maybe could have done something earlier.

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