Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Civil Rights, Fannie Lou Hamer, Black Women and Hysterectomy

Fannie Lou Hamer after Beating

I found this by accident on Wikipedia while looking up something else. Fannie Lou Hamer, who later became a reknowned Civil Rights leader, was given a hysterectomy at the age of 32 in order to prevent her from producing children.

If you don't know what happened to Hamer during the voter registration drives of the 1960s, what the police did to her, you really need to.  So please google her name.

Hamer had gone into hospital to have a tumour removed, and during that surgery, the hysterectomy was performed without her consent. This is just another way Black women's reproduction has been controlled by the authorities for generations.

If you have listened to my Cancer Journals, you know that I had a hysterectomy last year as a result of my diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Prior to that, when I was still of childbearing age, two different doctors at two different London hospitals try to force me to have a hysterectomy.

Hamer's surgery was performed in 1961 and she later coined the phrase “Mississippi appendectomy” because this practice was very established as a way of removing and preventing Black women's ability to reproduce. So this tactic, which was common in Mississippi in the early 1960s, was still being employed in London in the 1980s and '90s. I was never given any good reason or explanation for why I should undergo this surgery until my cancer diagnosis last year.

Experiments on Black women formed the basis of gynecology. For more about this, see: 

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Monday, August 01, 2016

Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey: The Mothers of Modern Gynecology

As you may know, the speculum was developed via experiments performed on enslaved Black women.

Dr. Marion Sims, who conducted many of these experiments, has been called the “father of modern gynecology” and is credited with inventing the speculum. 

Meanwhile, the enslaved Black women on whom he experimented have largely been forgotten. They were experimented on without anaesthesia and without dignity, and some of them died under his “care”. 

Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey were three such women whose names we should, we must, recall.

Just part of the history of how Black women's bodies have been treated in the name of “healthcare".   

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Black Women Sue Johnson & Johnson over Ovarian Cancer

Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder
As you may know, Black women in the United States have been suing Johnson & Johnson over revelations that the company promoted its baby powder heavily in the Black community.  More than 1,000 women are currently suing J & J.

Many Black women, my mother included, sprinkled baby powder or other talcum-based powder in their panties every day for reasons of hygiene.

Johnson & Johnson have profited from targeting their baby powder at Black women despite the fact that it has been known since the 1970s that there is a link between talcum powder, the main ingredient of Johnson & Johnson baby powder, and ovarian cancer. I have known this for many years, as has J&J. For many Black women, the repeated use of talcum powder has been a death sentence.

One woman, Jacqueline Fox, won $72 million in a lawsuit against Johnson &Johnson, but unfortunately, she did not live to see the result.

See also: Johnson & Johnson Reportedly Pushed Talcum Powder on Black Women. There are loads of stories like this online at the moment.

Add to this the fact that Black men and women often present late with a range of cancers. I explored this in my chapter on Cancer Black Care in Black Success Stories. For more about this, see my Cancer Journal 12.

As a survivor of ovarian cancer (which was NOT related to use of talcum powder), this is obviously affecting me deeply. I fought to get to see the doctor I wanted and he eventually diagnosed the cancer, before it even had any symptoms.

Early diagnosis is crucial. Patients who are diagnosed early have a 90% chance of survival, but this drops to just 20% with late diagnosis.

If you have any concerns at all, please, please get yourself checked out.

Please share this with your networks and please leave your comments below.  Thanks. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cancer Journal 12: Next Steps

If I Can Do Cancer, I Can Do Anything - Surviving Cancer
Listen below to my Cancer Journal 12.  

I look back to when I was first diagnosed with cancer and I recall how terrified I was.  And I look at the profound effect having cancer has had on my life and is still having on me. 

Below is a link to a news story about the fact that Medicaid in Connecticut has been cut. So some cancer patients can no longer access radiotherapy. And this may particularly affect Black and Latina women patients.  This is what happens when there is no NHS.  This is why the junior doctors are on strike today.

Listen below.  

Please share this with your networks and please leave your comments below.  Thank you.

Click here for more of my Cancer Journals

Click here for the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Black Women With Fibroids Face Higher Risk Of Endometrial Cancer

Black women and fibroids
Click here for my Cancer Journals

We have known for many years that Black women are more likely than other women to have fibroids.  Up till now, fibroids have been considered to be benign tumours, although they can cause problems including heavy periods, pain and infertility.  They are commonly treated by surgery and can lead to hysterectomy.  They can also be treated using herbal medicine. 

Now, a study from Boston University has shown that Black women with a history of fibroids have a 40% increased risk of developing cancer of the womb lining (endometrium). 

Click here to read more