Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 30

Love

FRIENDSHIP

Black Girl
Cancer Magic

Y

BY C H R IS TA BE L K . C H EU NG , PH D

oung people, Black people, and young Black women get cancer too! I'm honored to ink
this laugh-cry-laugh-cry story of Chellese Parker and Iman Perry to tell you how it is...
The fact that their table was the only one with a grip of young BIPOC cancer
patients at CancerCon, made me ask to join them - for all the same reasons why
Black kids in elementary school sit together in the cafeteria. Being a brown-skinned
Chinese-American woman, I appreciated the melanin.
After seeing that the situation was so white at the largest national conference for young adults
with cancer, Chellese Parker and Iman Perry took to social media with the conference hashtag
and started liking pics posted by BIPOCs at the conference, who subsequently liked them back,
and later linked up with them at the meet and greet.
" We did that on purpose, " said Chellese. " Being Black girls is a big part of who we are. Pride
in our culture, relishing that, and Black girl magic is abundant in our circle of friends. "

30

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2020

Admittedly, most of us had no idea that the
world of young adult cancer advocacy (a.k.a.
AYA cancer) would be so white until we arrived. " I know that Black people get cancer,
and that cancer doesn't discriminate. So, I
didn't think that BIPOCs would be so scarce, "
said Chellese. " People of color need each other in a way that I don't know if white people
need? And maybe they don't need each other,
because they already have each other. So, it's
not on their radar. "
We bounced around our names, diagnoses,
stories about being young racial minority cancer patients, and how we got ourselves there
- to CancerCon - where most patients of color
were not. We held it down.
" I have a problem with the word survivor, "
Iman said, when we started talking about all
the cancer survivor, thriver, fighter, etc. labels
that put a militant or way positive spin on being a cancer patient. Iman explained that she
wasn't a survivor, that she's still struggling,
and that it's not because she's doing anything
wrong. Also, patients who get to claim remission aren't doing anything right either. Ain't
that the truth.
Chellese describes Iman as a smarter than
smart go-getter, who pushed her to attend
CancerCon. Iman had told her, 'I'm going
to do this thing, and it'll be good for you, so
I'm going to make sure it's free for you. Just
come.' Iman ended up winning a top prize for
fundraising, which included free CancerCon
attendance for herself and a friend-Chellese.
" Her pushing me in that direction was no
accident, " Chellese said of her amazing best
friend. Since then, Chellese has become more
involved in cervical cancer advocacy.
Chellese Parker and Iman Perry are an unlikely story. Presidential scholars at Hampton
University, who became fast friends during


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Elephants And Tea - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - December 2020

Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 1
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 3
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