CHICAGO – Every June, without fail, Diane Walker had a mammogram. Cancer ran in his family, she said. Even his mother had it. Decided not to be the next, it was year after year. It gave negative, year after year.
But in 2003, just retired, Walker and her husband went on a spree. Walker went to the Bahamas, Bowling Green, Ky., Back to his hometown of Waycross, Ga. So caught up enjoying her retirement, she said, she went everywhere except to her doctor's office.
Walker then had a mammogram in mid-2004 Waiting for her usual result, she said she felt dejected when she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, cancer in her milk ducts. She was 64 years old.
Nearly 15 years since its diagnosis, Walker, 78, has survived cancer. It cost her a bad, but she refuses to complain, considering how often black women like her die of bad cancer each year.
"Yes, I lost a bad," Walker said. "But what is a bad if you are going to live? I decided that I would live."
In the early 1980s, black and white women with bad cancer in Chicago died at almost the same rate. Thanks to improvements in detection and treatment in the 1990s, the mortality rate of white women fell sharply, but remained roughly the same for black women. Between 2005 and 2007, the death rate of black women with bad cancer in Chicago was 62 percent higher than that of white women, according to a report from the Sinai Urban Health Institute in Chicago. From 1999 to 2005 in Chicago, an average of 90 more black women died of bad cancer than white women annually, according to a local task force.
Experts attributed the worrisome trend: the largest bad cancer mortality gap in any major city in the nation, for a number of reasons, including lack of access to quality mammography and less access to treatment quality once diagnosed.
But in the last 10 years, Chicago has narrowed the disparity gap in deaths among white and black women.
Alliances between the city and groups such as the Chicago Metropolitan Breast Cancer Task Force, founded in 2007, were created to reduce these numbers. Chicago now leads the nation in reducing the disparity in deaths among black women, said Anne Marie Murphy, executive director of the work team, declining from 62 percent to 39 percent between 2011 and 2013, the most current period for which there are data available. .
"When we started, Chicago had a disparity in bad cancer mortality that was higher than the (national) average," said Murphy, who holds a Ph.D. in molecular genetics. "And although women have not biologically changed in those nine years, the system does."
Now, Murphy said, Chicago is addressing the disparity with increased funding for quality mammograms, improved education and outreach programs, and other support services. This year, the city's Public Health Department invested $ 700,000 to increase bad health services for populations that had difficulty accessing quality care.
The Murphy organization recently organized its annual Beyond October event, which included mammography, workshop, gift and brochure inscriptions from approximately 50 groups including YWCA, Planned Parenthood and American Cancer Society.
The event also featured mbadages, open enrollment badistance for those seeking health care and dance clbades, all in support of the group's goal: Foster health Habits beyond October.
"Being screened must be happening all year, it can not be just one thing in October," Murphy said. "Every month should be the month of awareness about bad cancer."
Murphy was one of the few speakers at the event, which included the US Representative. UU Robin Kelly of Matteson and Dr. Julie Morita, Commissioner of the Health Department of Chicago. The speakers, some of them survivors, expressed their difficult experiences with the disease as black women.
"It feels very lonely," said Chris-Tia Donaldson, executive director of the TGIN hair care company and bad cancer survivor.  Donaldson, a graduate of Harvard Law School, was only 36 years old when she was diagnosed with bad cancer. Initially horrified at losing hair just as her hair care products reached the top retailers, Donaldson, now 38, soon realized that the loneliness she felt when she was young with the condition was just as bad. While older women may have established careers and dedicated support systems, younger women with bad cancer often have to "put all that on hold" to deal with their illness, he said.
This year, Donaldson's company coordinated a social media campaign that encouraged survivors, many of them young, to share their stories. When talking about bad cancer, such varied perspectives are important, Donaldson said, as do those of low-income women, who sometimes "have to sacrifice rent and treatment," she said.
"Many people have not paid sick days," he added.
Worse still, experts said, many black women dying from bad cancer in the past they lacked health insurance, which had long been a major obstacle to continuous quality treatment.
The Affordable Care Act reduced some barriers, but may be more difficult for many Chicagoans without Surely this year, Morita said, 90% of the federal budget to promote and raise awareness about open enrollment has been cut, said Morita, and the deadline to register for this year's health insurance is December 15, weeks before. than the previous years.
As a result, she said that her department has tried to fill the void, organizing more "specific events" to reach the communities most in need of care, such as the working poor.
They are strategic, "said Morita. "We know which neighborhoods would really benefit from the market." Special efforts were made, he said, to house the open enrollment program in health centers, libraries and council offices.
Although experts say it is not clear how much there may be a change in the open enrollment period in the progress made against bad cancer in Chicago, there are reasons to hope, many agreed. Less than 10 percent of Chicago residents do not have insurance, "a historical minimum," Morita said. And as the bad cancer mortality gap narrows in Chicago, an October study from the American Cancer Society shows that bad cancer death rates appear to be declining nationally. From 1989 to 2015, the study authors said bad cancer death rates fell by 39 percent, something they attribute to advances in treatment and early detection of diseases.
Things were very different when Walker was diagnosed. She and her husband, who married in 1964, plan to move to Las Vegas. They are lucky, he said, and always have been.
"I'm still here," he said. "Not all of us die"