Sister Spokesman returned on Saturday, September 30, after a summer break, at the beautiful Granada Theater, 3022 Hennepin Avenue, in Uptown Minneapolis.
Saturday’s “Live, Laugh, Learn,” event was organized in partnership with the Breast Cancer Gaps Project, which works with communities to improve access and use of breast cancer screenings, diagnosis, and treatment for African American women.
Representatives from four Minnesota healthcare providers—Blue Cross and Blue Shield MN, HealthPartners, Hennepin Healthcare, and M Health Fairview, participated in the event.
Additional resources were provided by system innovators Hologic, and the African American Breast Cancer Alliance, as well as Sage, which helps provide free screenings and mammograms for low-income clients. Attendees were able to sign up at the event for a mammogram with the healthcare providers in attendance.
Sister Spokesman founder Tracey Williams-Dillard greeted attendees and started the afternoon with a lively game. After the prize giveaway, she introduced vocalist Bree Turner to entertain and inspire the audience. Bree spoke from the heart about her mother’s struggles with breast cancer, and her voice reflected her passion and love.
Breast cancer experts included Dr. LaShonda Soma, a radiologist with Midwest Radiology specializing in breast imaging and medical director of Health Partners Mammography and Regions Breast Health Center. She was joined by Natasha Hollowell, a registered nurse, with 20 years of experience at the Minneapolis VA.
Hollowell’s involvement in breast cancer awareness and advocacy came from her asking, “How can I help?” Her involvement grew to her becoming an advisory team member with Breast Cancer Gaps, as is Dr. Soma.
See video highlights below
During their presentation, both women used their experience and medical expertise to help dispel fears about breast cancer screening and explained exactly what to expect during an exam. They discussed why new mammogram technology is more important than a monthly self-exam, and how early detection can make a big difference in treatment and recovery.
Black women have a 41 percent higher mortality rate from breast cancer than White women. The aim of events like “Live, Laugh, Learn” is to help turn the tide of racial disparities in care and recovery for African American women. The message throughout the event emphasized the importance of not ignoring the alarming statistics regarding Black women’s health and encouraged attendees to get screened, along with their friends and family.
It wouldn’t be a Sister Spokesman event without games, shopping with small business vendors, and prizes. Near the end of the event, Reona Berry was presented with the “Breast Cancer Trailblazer Award” and given a personally engraved silver tray that symbolized her service to the community, since founding the African American Breast Cancer Alliance in 1990, with eight other women affected by breast cancer.
After the award presentation, Monisha Richard, a community healthcare advocate, took the stage with a call to action, asking all the attendees to reach out to a friend, family member, or colleague and invite them to schedule their mammogram. She told the audience they mattered and asked them to spread the word to help save lives. “Through survival, we grow, we live, and we thrive!”
For info about mammogram resources, visit www.breastcancergaps.org/how-to.
Sister Spokesman’s next event “Homeownership” takes place on November 4, from 12-3 p.m., at Northpoint Health & Wellness Center at 1256 Penn Ave. N, Ste 5100, in Minneapolis. Visit @SisterSpokesman on Facebook for the latest.
Scroll below for more photos by Chris Juhn.