BLACK VOICES
05/08/2014 02:25 pm ET | Updated May 08, 2014

Breast Cancer Survivors Discuss Increasing Support For Black Women With The Disease

The threat of breast cancer is an indiscriminate one. Women --and some men -- of all colors shapes and sizes face the deadly disease everyday.

But despite the widespread prominence of the disease, adequate support has not always been available to women of every race. Karen Jackson and Tiffany Jones -- both founders of networks that support black women with breast cancer -- spoke on Huff Post Live about how their battles with cancer inspired them to start their organizations. Both women are committed to helping other women with breast cancer avoid the seclusion and confusion they encountered on their journeys to survival.

After being disappointed by the lack of diversity in support groups available to her, Jackson found herself asking "why isn't there something for us?" So she founded Sisters Network in 1994:

You have to remember I was diagnosed some twenty years ago, and the atmosphere around breast cancer was more devastating at that time because women were not speaking out, women were feeling abandoned by family and friends. The information from our physicians was not all that it should have been. I was a very proactive person anyway, and I felt as though what I was getting was not comparable to what I needed...Keep in mind, I wanted to pick up the phone and call a national organization for cancer for African-American women, and to my dismay there was no such thing. I felt that even though I was going to different support groups I didnt feel a sisterhood and there weren't enough women who looked like me who were attending the support systems that were available.

Today, Sisters Network has chapters spread across the United States and with initiatives ranging from promoting general awareness, offering financial assistance, and supporting teens diagnosed with the disease.

Jones, founder of Pink Chose Me, said she was inspired by a similar experience. The "Love In The City" star said she noticed a gap in the treatment and survival rate between white women and black women with breast cancer.

When I first started Pink Chose me back in 2005, the support groups that I was a part of were mainly Caucasian women. Back then I read that 62 percent of black women do not go to get their follow up once they're diagnosed with breast cancer. Eighty percent of caucasian women do... Black women, we die of this disease when we don't have to. Its based on fear and economics.

Jones' organization raises money to help pay for mammograms, offers educational workshop and activities, wellness retreats, and even fashion support groups dedicated to strengthening "emotional balance, self worth and inner and outer beauty."

Visit the Pink Chose Me and Sisters Network sites for more information.

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