Black women in the US are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, according to Cancer; Facts & Figures for African-Americans 2016-2018, American Cancer Society. To address the unacceptable disparity in breast cancer mortality rates, breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen and the Ad Council, have introduced ‘Know Your Girls,’ a national campaign to educate and inspire black women to understand their risk for breast cancer and take charge of their breast health.
A recent survey by the Ad Council was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in February-April 2018 and found that while 92% of black women agree breast health is important, only 25% of women have recently discussed breast health with their family, friends, or colleagues and only 17% have taken steps to understand their risk for breast cancer. Also, black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer younger, at later stages and with more aggressive forms of the disease, limiting treatment options.
“As a breast cancer survivor who lost her mother to breast cancer, I understand all too well the pain and heartbreak of this disease,” said Paula Schneider, president and chief executive officer of Susan G. Komen. “We hope this campaign empowers black women to learn about breast cancer risk and the resources available to take action.”
The message of the campaign encourages black women, ages 30-55 years old, to treat their breasts with the same attentiveness and understanding they share with the important women in their lives.
“The ‘Know Your Girls’ campaign introduces breast cancer education through a celebration of the powerful sisterhood between black women,” said Lisa Sherman, president and chief executive officer of the Ad Council. “Instead of focusing on fear, the campaign provides tools and information that can help black women feel ownership around their breast health and encourages the sharing of those resources and messages with the women who support them throughout their lives.”
A video, created pro bono by creative agency Translation, features vignettes of a woman at key moments throughout her life. At each occasion, she is surrounded by her girls, the friends and family who have always been her source of support and strength. At the end, the woman reveals that the “girls” who have been with her in every single moment of her life, her breasts, are in fact the ones she might know the least.
"The staggering breast cancer mortality rates amongst women of color — amongst black women — is unacceptable,” said Steve Stoute, founder and chief executive officer of Translation. “Breast cancer has touched so many of our loved ones, our peers, and our neighbors, including my wife who lost her dear sister to this crippling disease. Creating a healthy dialogue between women of color, their fears, and their breasts is a critical step towards eradication."
The campaign includes TV, radio, print, out-of-home, and digital PSAs which direct women to KnowYourGirls.org. The comprehensive website features easy-to-understand resources that help women navigate breast cancer risk factors, recognize changes in their own breasts, and prepare to have a conversation with a doctor.
The campaign also includes brand new social media channels, launched in collaboration with digital marketing agency Good Stuff Digital, that aim to create an online community where black women can come together to talk honestly and openly about their breast health and show support for their sisters.
Through their African American Health Equity Initiative, Komen is already working to reduce the mortality gap between black women and white women by 25%, focusing first on the 10 cities where mortality rates and late-stage diagnosis of black women are highest.
The Know Your Girls PSAs were directed by AV Rockwell, who has created short films like Feathers and The Gospel, and include singer Alicia Keys’s hit song You Don’t Know My Name.
“The Susan G Komen #KnowYourGirls campaign is not only hip, youthful and timely but it’s essentially very important for all women young and mature,” said actress and breast cancer survivor Vanessa Bell Calloway. “I’m so happy to be a part of this important campaign because as a breast cancer survivor I understand firsthand how important it is to know your girls literally and figuratively. Being in tuned with your girls can save your life. Know Your Girls can also mean know your real-life girlfriends and as a community of women help remind each other about the importance of breast health.”
People are encouraged to join the conversation using #KnowYourGirls on social media.