By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
Many African American women clutch a breast cancer diagnosis in one sweaty palm, but walk out of their doctor’s office and live for decades, like Diahann Carroll, the Emmy and Tony Award winning actress who was diagnosed in 1991 but died almost three decades later from breast cancer.
Although CDC records show that African American women are 40 percent more likely to die from the disease than white women, and more likely than white women to get triple-negative breast cancer, a type that often is aggressive and comes back after treatment.
The statistics do not tell the whole story. African American women have lower rates for breast cancer. This means women of African descent are less likely to contract breast cancer but die at higher rates.
More important, the statistics do not zero in on resilient breast cancer survivors like Carroll, who palmed a breast cancer diagnosis in one hand in 1997, but walked out of her doctor’s office, and that year went on to play the role of Eleanor Potter, the wife of Jimmy Potter, in the movie, “The Five Heartbeats.” About four years later, in 1995 Carroll appeared with Billy Dee Williams in “Lonesome Dove: The Series.”