Contrary to a pervasive, popular perception among medical professionals, Asian women get breast cancer. In fact, it's one of the leading causes of death among Asian women in the United States (and Asia), who actually face unique cultural, linguistic and genetic issues pertaining to breast cancer.
The National Asian Breast Cancer Initiative is a recently established not-for-profit pilot project currently spearheaded by Privy Groupe, fiscally managed by the Asian Pacific Community Fund and endorsed by the Asian and Pacific Islander National Cancer Survivors Network. NABCI is a national initiative to address the unique cultural, linguistic and genetic challenges that Asian women face related to breast cancer.
During the month of October, NABCI has entitled this campaign "Asian women don't get breast cancer" in honor of breast cancer activist Susan Shinagawa -- and for the express purpose is dispelling this fallacy:
In 1991, Susan noticed a lump in her breast during her monthly self-exam. Her mammogram came out negative, but a sonogram revealed that the lump was a solid mass. Two doctors in different states diagnosed Susan with fibrocystic breast disease--lumpy breasts--and both initially refused to do a biopsy because, "Asian women don't get breast cancer." After the biopsy, Susan was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and opted for a modified radical mastectomy of her right breast and six months of chemotherapy. Ten years later, a routine mammogram revealed that Susan had an unrelated breast cancer in her left breast, for which she underwent a second mastectomy.Seriously, there is currently no national organization or project that addresses breast cancer among Asian Pacific Islanders. What's up with that? NABCI is a startup initiative, so they're still raising funds to get off the ground. For further information, or to make a donation, go to the YouCaring.com campaign. You can also follow updates on the NABCI Facebook page.
Susan is still in active treatment and has become one of the nation’s leading Asian breast cancer activists. Susan helped co-found the Asian & Pacific Islander National Cancer Survivors Network (APINCSN), which is a partner of NABCI. To this day, Susan still meets Asian women (mostly young) diagnosed with breast cancer who were initially told by their healthcare providers that “Asian women don’t get breast cancer.”