Stanford Cancer Institute’s 10th anniversary conference: Breast Cancer and African Americans

by Bay View Education Reporter Daphne Young

Every year, the Stanford Cancer Institute (SCI) hosts an annual conference geared at reaching Black/African American women (and men) facing breast cancer. This is the 10th anniversary of the annual Breast Cancer and African Americans (BCAA) Conference, which takes place virtually, on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. And, it’s FREE!

Event producer and program director Pamela Ratliff said, “For the past decade our primary focus of this annual conference has been to reach African American women in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area in an effort to provide them with the latest and most up-to-date breast cancer education and information to help reduce cancer disparities.” Ratliff added, “We (the Stanford Cancer Institute), now have the extraordinary opportunity to connect with women and men of the African Diaspora, along with the diverse organizations that serve them from around the state, country and world via this virtual platform.”

Pamela Ratliff is program director of the Stanford Cancer Institute, OCHECE/BCAA producer and event chair.

A few featured guest speakers at this years’ BCAA conference include experts in breast cancer research and health and wellness, including Dr. Karen Winkfield, who is a radiation oncologist and the executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance; Ms. Rea Blakey, the associate director for external outreach and engagement in the Oncology Center of Excellence at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and Dr. Ro, an award-winning health journalist, television personality and author known as “America’s nutrition coach.” Dr. Ro has been featured on the Dr. Oz Show and has helped millions of people in their journey to lose weight and achieve healthier lifestyles.

Plus, there will be discussions on the latest breast cancer topics, including the impact of COVID-19, along with helpful information regarding cells and the DNA-cancer connection, advocacy, stress management and an interactive physical activity demonstration. 

Another key highlight of the conference will include the Virtual Health Resource Fair, which will offer downloadable cancer resources and information from local and national organizations. Plus, attendees will receive an official digital copy of the 10th Anniversary BCAA Conference souvenir booklet and be able to take part in an intimate fireside chat with breast cancer survivor champions like Bennette Hooker, who has been an ambassador for BCAA for over seven years and is this year’s honorary event co-chair.

Bennette Hooker is a BCAA ambassador, event co-chair and breast cancer survivor.

Bennette is a Bayview native and a 12-year survivor of triple-negative breast cancer. For nearly a decade, she’s been there to support other cancer patients. “I’ve taken part in fashion shows to benefit breast cancer awareness and have done nutrition demonstrations,” said Bennette. But, most importantly, Bennette and her fellow Ambassadors are there to listen, talk to and encourage those who are battling the disease.

Whether you are a breast cancer patient, survivor or not, here are a few ways you can support other African Americans in your community who are facing cancer: 

• Reach out to your family members, friends, colleagues and other contacts you may not have spoken to in a while and share the BCAA event details. This is a great way to reconnect with those whom you may have lost touch with during the pandemic or others who may be alone and dealing with concerns or issues related to breast cancer.

• Remind people that they can join the event by phone and listen in if they do not have access to a computer or tablet on the day of the event, but they will need help from a family member or friend to complete their online registration so they may receive the call-in details.

• Share and forward the event flyer with your network contacts, whether they are in the Greater SF Bay Area or throughout the U.S. and abroad, to help reach people within the African Diaspora with this potentially life-saving information.

• Post the flyer and/or event details on your social media pages – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. – or, if you don’t use social media, ask those in your family or inner circle to do so to help get the word out!

Also, for professionals in the healthcare industry, continuing education units are being offered to nurses, social workers and community health education specialists. 

“The goal of this annual conference is to get women educated and informed about breast cancer and, in turn, help them better understand how to become their own best health advocate,” said Pamela Ratliff, program director at the SCI’s Office of Cancer Health Equity and Community Engagement. “When it comes down to it, being your own health advocate is the single most important tool that can help shed light on the issues, needs and concerns that matter the most to you when faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer,” said Ratliff. 

Pictured are Pamela Ratliff, BCAA producer and event chair (seated in chair, front and center); Bennette Hooker, BCAA ambassador and event co-chair (first row standing, third from right) along with fellow BCAA ambassadors, volunteers and partners representing the Silicon Valley Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, San Francisco Chapter. – Photo: Pamela A. Ratliff, BCAA

The Bayview Hunters Point community has one of the highest cancer rates among African Americans in the Bay Area. According to the results of a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention in 2019 that looked at the characteristics of diagnosed breast cancer cases in San Francisco, there are several disparities for Black or African American patients. The analysis revealed that the proportion of breast cancer diagnoses varied greatly by geographical area and race or ethnicity. For instance, while Black or African American patients represented 7.2 percent of breast cancer diagnoses overall, they represented 25.5 percent of the diagnoses in southeast San Francisco, that is, Bayview Hunters Point.

PHOTO (no caption): Black women and breast cancer

So, visit the BCAA conference webpage for more information and updates and follow BCAA on Facebook @BreastCancerAfricanAmericans. Contact Pamela Ratliff, program director, Educational Initiatives and Partnerships at the Stanford Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Health Equity and Community Engagement, at pratliff@stanford.edu or 650-723-3116. 

As an African American woman, mom and cancer survivor myself, I urge African Americans to learn as much as they can so we can better support one another and our loved ones who may be stricken with this disease. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

Visit SFBayView.com to watch my Youtube interview with Pamela Ratliff and Bennette Hooker, discussing this upcoming BCAA event. 

The 10th Anniversary Breast Cancer and African Americans (BCAA) Conference takes place VIRTUALLY on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. THE EVENT IS FREE!!

THE DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS AUG. 25, so REGISTER TODAY!

Daphne Young is the new Education Reporter at the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper. The Chicago native began her journalism career as an intern at the Chicago Daily Defender, once the largest Black newspaper in the country. Since then, she’s covered breaking news, crime, politics, education, entertainment and sports at several radio and TV stations around the country: WBBM-AM, WSB-AM, WBGO, WIOD, WSFA-TV, KERO-TV3, KESQ-TV3, KDWN and iHeart Radio SF. Daphne is also a contributing producer for the environmental podcast Climate One. Daphne and her family live in the Bay Area. Contact her at education@sfbayview.com