Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 7

ANTIRACIST ADVICE

Conversation

INTRODUCTIONS
Christabel K. Cheung, PhD: " I'm a scholar, writer and cancer gangster,
who serves professionally as an assistant professor at the University of
Maryland School of Social Work. I take much pride in conducting embodied research in AYA oncology, focused on psychosocial issues that
include financial hardship, social determinants, disparities and antiracist
patient engagement in the conduct of research. AKA Jade Gangster, I'm a
two-time survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosed during my young
adult years. Racially, I'm a brown-skinned, 0.5 generation, Chinese American immigrant from Hong Kong. My pronouns are she/her/hers. Here to moderate this Q&A. "
Keaton Williams: " My pronouns are He/Him/His. My mother is Hispanic
and Native American and my father is Creole, which is a mix of French and
Black. I was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma at the age of 19 years old.
I was first experiencing leakage draining from my nose-it wasn't necessarily mucus, rather just a clear drainage. It seemed to be constant. I could
not breathe out of my right nostril. I went to my primary care physician
and was told I just had a sinus infection. This cycle went on for a full five
months. Finally, I was in class one day and was lying my head in my hand.
I felt a bump on the right side of my neck, where my lymph node was. I wasn't too concerned, as
this normally happens with sinus infections. I was thinking that it was probably just a serious
sinus infection and I may need surgical attention, since it wasn't getting better after continuously
visiting my primary care physician and taking every form of medication possible. I asked to be
referred to an ENA (Ear Throat and Nose Specialist) and within the first appointment, he said
I needed to get a biopsy done. I agreed, thinking this was just protocol. When the results came
back, after what seemed like the longest two weeks of my life, we received the shocking news. "
Court Simmons: " I am a 25-year-old Black trans-nonbinary identifying
human and I use they/them pronouns only. I was born in Philly to a single
mother who grounded her existence in the well-being and success of her
children. I am the eldest of two in some conversations and one of at least
six in others. The context of my cancer diagnoses predate my birth, and as
long as I live, cancer will continue to share in my experience. My family lives
with a genetic predisposition called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome-a mutation
in a tumor suppressing gene. My sister Christina died after a year of treatment for a glioblastoma
shortly after her 17th birthday. My mom was diagnosed with more than five cancers before her
transition into the ancestral realm right before my 17th birthday. One month after her death, I
was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, requiring 10 months of chemotherapy and a limb-sparing
surgery. Shortly before my 25th birthday, I was diagnosed with triple positive breast cancer. "
Marissa Thomas: " I am an African-American/Black Woman from the
Seattle, WA area. I was diagnosed at the age of 35 with stage II 35% ER +
breast cancer. Usually, if your breast cancer is hormone positive, it is over
50% positive but mine was rare, so my care team treated me as if I was
triple negative. I completed chemo, radiation, had a lumpectomy and two
breast reconstruction surgeries. I found my lump myself one day getting
out of the shower putting lotion on. Two weeks before I found the lump,
I had my annual physical and my physician at the time 'felt' something
in my left breast. She shrugged it off and said it was probably nothing but maybe a bruise since
I had been working out a lot lately. Two weeks later, the tumor doubled in size. I have worked
in healthcare for 15 years, so I know how to navigate the system pretty well. Coupled with the
fact that I live in an area with an advanced healthcare system, I know this is one of the reasons
I received great care. I don't take that lightly. I know many women who have told me stories of
how they were not given options for care and felt like providers would not listen to them. I had
my mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, and diagnosis all within less than one week. "

Christabel asks: Can you each explain
whether and how you identify with being a racial-minority AYA cancer patient or survivor?
How do you like your various intersectional
identities to be named?
Keaton: " Being a BIPOC, I have always really
identified with my culture (specifically my
mom's side of the family). Being mixed with
Hispanic, Native American, and Creole, I
consider myself a racial minority, however,
I haven't had the same experience as every
other BIPOC. I recognize my privilege and
how I have had a wonderful upbringing. My
family is middle-class, my parents remain
married to this day, and both are employed.
The steady income helped lessen the stresses of the financial burden of medical bills,
however, definitely did not eliminate the
stress. These are all unique barriers that disproportionately affect racial minorities and I
am blessed to have a strong support system. "
Court: " This definitely resonates for me. My
intricately intersecting identities have catapulted me into my purpose - into the work
that I am so committed to. I'm a Black transgender person living in America. And I am
surviving racism, transphobia, and cancer
within the very institutions that thrive when
I am quiet about these identities. When I am
myself and joyful, that is a revolutionary act.
I am a warrior. "
Marissa: " Being a Black Woman, breast
cancer survivor and co-founder of For the
Breast of Us, I know I have a responsibility
to help women of color who are diagnosed
after me. Giving them the tools and resources that I had while I was going through
treatment, and what I have learned as an
advocate post-treatment. Black Women
are 40% more likely to die from breast
cancer than their white counterparts. We
are also diagnosed with aggressive types
of cancer like triple-negative and lobular
breast cancer. "
Christabel asks: " If a young racial-minority
patient/survivor like you was newly diagnosed
with cancer in the current double pandemic of
COVID-19 and the uprisings against racism,
what personal advice would you give about
what lies ahead for them? "

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2020

7


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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
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