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A National Minority Health Month message

By Congresswoman Nikema Williams (D-GA 5th District) | April 7, 2022

I’m Congresswoman Nikema Williams and I proudly represent Georgia’s 5th congressional district. Like too many of you, my family has been touched by cancer. I lost my mama way too soon to stage IV colon cancer, and I cared for her in the last four years of her life. If that wasn’t enough, I had to fight her insurance providers to ensure that she could get the medical treatments that she needed. People in America face additional burdens to potentially lifesaving cancer screenings. Screenings are often out of reach due to their cost, or simply because they’re not available in everyone’s communities. Sadly, your race plays a large role in access to cancer screenings. This is especially true for Black Americans. Out of every racial or ethnic group, we have the highest death rate and the shortest survival for most cancers. The rates for Black Americans with colorectal cancer are particularly stark. We are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die from colorectal cancer than most other groups. Every human deserves equal access to cutting-edge diagnostics and treatment, no matter your zip code, no matter your bank account.

That’s why I’m committed to connecting people, communities and systems to increase equity and access. We must also support people in making healthy choices, to prevent cancer by insuring access to healthy food, exercise, stress reduction, tobacco control programs, vaccines and cancer screenings. I also support President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot and groups like the Prevent Cancer Foundation working to prevent and cure cancer. The first step to stopping cancer is for everyone who has cancelled or delayed a cancer screening to get those Back on the Books! More than 9.5 million people missed cancer screenings in the U.S. as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I know that one or two of you reading this probably needs to call your doctor right now. With regular recommended screenings, we can often catch cancer when there may be more effective treatment options, or even prevent it from developing by removing precancerous tissue. So don’t wait to get your cancer screenings Back on the Books. And if you know someone who needs to get their screenings on the books, give them a call! Get screened as soon as you can. Your friends and family will be glad that you did.

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