This is #BlackinCancerWeek

To us, this is monumental because often times we feel alone. Not anymore. #BlackinCancerWeek is here.

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When you hear the titles “Cancer Researcher” or “Oncologist” , there is probably a distinct figure that pops into your head. Black in Cancer was formed so that when you hear those words again… you picture a diverse workforce fighting a common enemy, cancer.  Cancer is the second leading cause of death world-wide, which makes it a pretty big issue. A bigger issue, although indirectly related to those outcomes, is the lack of diversity in cancer research and medicine, and we’re not talking about patients. Ironically, Black people, specifically African Americans account for a disproportionate amount of cancer diagnoses and deaths in a variety of cancers. However, those same communities don’t see their culture well represented behind the scenes or on the frontlines of medicine or research. As an organization, Black in Cancer aims to change that narrative.

Starting the week off with a roll call (#BICrollcall), we are highlighting researchers, clinicians, industry professionals, advocates, survivors, and more. Often Black cancer scientists find our community on social media. Though the isolation at the root of this action is tragic, this has created an opportunity for us to connect and support one another beyond institutional boundaries. However, this does not quell the need for better representation at our home institutions and companies. Later this week, we will share our personal stories and how they inspire us to continue the fight against cancer, and even our expert suggestions on how to recruit and retain cancer research trainees. We will end our week with a dedication to Henrietta Lacks and our promise to continue her legacy.

After #BlackinCancerWeek is over, our stories and impact will remain. Unfortunately, the long-standing trend is to spark uncomfortable conversations, take performative action, then forget about it. We are happy to share that our movement will continue. Our stance on this very important issue will be talked about for years to come and we are ready to work. When it is all said and done, you will understand the mission of an organization started by Black cancer scientists and their reasoning for championing the push for diversity within cancer research, medicine and advocacy.

#BlackinCancerWeek is October 11-17, 2020. Learn more at https://blackincancer.com.

Henry J. Henderson III

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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