Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer affecting women in the United States. It is also the leading cancer affecting women of all ethnic backgrounds in the country.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to pay tribute to those who have confronted this illness and celebrate survivors’ resilience and strength. It serves as a crucial reminder to advocate for your own health. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, INC, one out of every eight women in the United States will receive a breast cancer diagnosis during her lifetime. In 2023, it’s estimated that 297,790 women and 2,800 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Chances are, you know someone who has been impacted by breast cancer.

While the pink ribbon symbolizes hope and solidarity, it also draws attention to the disparities that affect Black women in their battle against breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, Black women are 40% more likely to succumb to breast cancer than their white counterparts. Similarly, the mortality rate for Black women under 50 is twice as high as that for white women in the same age group.

Improvements in treatments.

Since the early 1990s, various strategies have been developed to enhance the well-being of breast cancer patients, including early detection and diagnosis, reducing tobacco use, widespread breast cancer screening, and improvements in breast cancer treatments.

Despite advancements in early detection, diagnosis, and screening, many Black women are less likely to receive adequate treatment than white women. Possible risk factors include socioeconomic status, late-stage diagnosis of breast cancer, biological and genetic disparities in tumors, and unequal access to healthcare, among other factors.

That said, numerous Black women have overcome the odds and emerged victorious in their battle against breast cancer. Take a look at these Black celebrities who have triumphed over breast cancer.

  • Hoda Kotb

    TODAY Show talk show host Hoda Kotb received a breast cancer diagnosis back in 2007. Her gynecologist detected lumps in her breast during a routine examination. In response, she decided to undergo a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

    Hoda Kotb in black dress at red carpet event.

    Catherine Powell / Stringer via Getty Images

  • Matthew Knowles

    Mathew Knowles announced during an interview with Good Morning America, that he had received a stage 1A breast cancer diagnosis. The father of Beyoncé and Solange expressed that he became concerned after repeatedly noticing small blood spots on his T-shirts. Medical professionals identified that he had a BRCA2 gene mutation, which elevates the risk of certain cancers. Following the diagnosis, Mathew underwent a mastectomy to remove one breast.

    Mathew Knowles attends the 2011 Living Legends Foundation Honors giving speech in front of microphone.

    Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

  • Robin Roberts

    In 2007, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts disclosed her breast cancer diagnosis. Following the discovery of a lump during a self-examination, Roberts openly shared her journey in battling breast cancer. During her struggle, viewers witnessed her shave her head and openly discuss the challenges and triumphs of undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

    Robin Roberts accepting the Sager Strong Award onstage during the 2019 NBA Awards

    Kevin Winter / Getty Images

  • Wanda Sykes

    In 2011, comedian Wanda Sykes underwent breast-reduction surgery. It unexpectedly led to the discovery of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is commonly referred to as stage 0 breast cancer. Given her family’s breast cancer history, Sykes underwent a double mastectomy.

    Wanda Sykes speaking during a virtual event

    Arturo Holmes/ Getty Images

  • Vanessa Bell Calloway

    Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway, known for her role as Princess Imani Izzi in “Coming to America,” received a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or stage 0 breast cancer. In a candid personal essay shared with Ebony magazine, Bell Calloway opened up about her journey with breast cancer, emphasizing how surviving the disease transformed her outlook on life.

    Vanessa Bell Calloway attending the Premiere Of Focus Features' "Harriet" at The Orpheum Theatre on October 29, 2019

    Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

  • Richard Roundtree

    Richard Roundtree discovered he had a male form of breast cancer in 1993 after detecting a lump while filming a movie in Costa Rica, as reported by ABC News. After keeping his diagnosis private for five years, actor who played John Shaft in the iconic 1971 film Shaft decided to publicly reveal his survivor status during a celebrity golf tournament, with the aim of raising funds for a mobile breast cancer diagnostic unit.

    Actor Richard Roundtree at What Men Want red carpet event.

    Rachel Murray / Stringer via Getty Images

  • Ananda Lewis

    From the late ’80s to the early 2000s, Ananda Lewis was known as the host of shows such as BET’s Teen Summit and MTV’s TRL. In 2020, she publicly revealed a stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis, as reported by aspireTV. Lewis shared that she had been fighting the disease for two years. During this time, she used her platform to advocate for regular mammograms for women. She acknowledged that her previous reluctance to get mammograms was influenced by her mother’s experience, who had undergone the tests only to later be diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Ananda Lewis arriving at Radio One's 25th Anniversary Awards Gala August 17, 2006 i

    Nancy Ostertag / Stringer via Getty Images

  • Calypso Rose

    Trinidadian artist Calypso Rose, also known as the queen of Calypso, navigated through a breast cancer diagnosis in 1996, as reported by Billboard. After battling breast cancer, Rose also underwent heart surgery and overcame stomach cancer. In 2019, she achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the oldest artist to perform at the Coachella festival at the age of 78.

    Calypso Rose posing for a portrait backstage at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

    Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

  • Bershan Shaw

    Bershan Shaw, known for her appearance on The Real Housewives of New York City, received a stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis in 2007. She faced another diagnosis in 2009, this time with stage 4 breast cancer. In an interview with Parade magazine, she revealed that she was initially given only three months to live. Shaw conquered breast cancer on two occasions and has since gone on to become a motivational speaker, life coach, interior designer, and a prominent TV personality.

    Bershan Shaw attending Unstoppable Warrior Women at Yamashiro Hollywood on October 16, 2018

    Rachel Luna / Stringer via Getty Images

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