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Quebec campaign shines light on breast cancer disparities for Black women


One in eight Quebec women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and it's the most common cancer in females, but there's a specific type that disproportionately affects women of African descent.

It's called triple-negative breast cancer — it's a rarer, more aggressive form of cancer with fewer treatment options. It's also less responsive to hormone therapy and targeted therapies.

A new awareness campaign in Quebec aims to highlight that health outcomes can differ for women of colour. They face higher mortality rates because of a wide range of factors, including disparities in screening, diagnosis, access to care, and a lack of data on the specific cases of Black and racialized women.

CTV News spoke to Dorothy Rhau, the president of Audace au Feminin, who is also one of the honourary presidents of the awareness campaign. She says she wants to break the silence on this issue, which hits close to home.

"Unfortunately my mom had breast cancer twice, and I wasn't aware of that until after the second time," said Rhau, adding that she believes there is a lack of education in the Black community about the importance of communicating on health matters.

"I don't think that they know that if they don't share the information, it's impacting other women in the family. It could be your children, your siblings, your aunts, your grandmother — all the women in the family. So it's really important to talk about that because you need to save the lives of the women that you love," she said.

The "Tétons Ben Drôles" campaign aims to promote access to preventive care for all women and encourage mammograms starting at 40 years old because early detection is critical.

Rhau said the name of the campaign was chosen to inject humour into a serious subject and give it a local cultural spin by using a French term for breasts and a Québécois play on words.

While the campaign is Quebec-based, fundraising efforts go beyond the province's borders. Organizers are collaborating with Dr. Juliet Daniel, a professor in the Department of Biology and Associate Dean Research and External Relations in the Faculty of Science at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.

"She's doing fundamental research on triple-negative breast cancer," said Rhau. "We wanted to make sure that we're starting to get funds, but also data on Black women and racialized women who have breast cancer."

The campaign launches with a fundraising art exhibition on Thursday called "Man of colors for his sisters," featuring works by artist St. Ghor.

The event starts at Mael Galerie on St. Paul Street West in Old Montreal at 5:00 p.m. Top Stories

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