Breast Cancer Month may have ended in October, but not it’s message of educating everyone about disease and the importance of early detection. The Rev. Dr. Ruth Travis is “fighting” everyday to raise awareness about breast cancer. She was diagnosed on November 27, 2007 and credits mammography with saving her life.
“I was diagnosed two days before my 62nd birthday,” she said. “I had taken a mammogram since I was 40 years of age. For 22 years, I had taken an annual mammogram. I will become 78 years old on November 29, 2023. I am glad to be alive!”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes a mammogram as an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. According to the CDC, regular mammograms can find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.
Dr. Travis’ many efforts surrounding breast cancer awareness include educating both men and women about the importance of early detection through self-breast examinations and mammograms. Her busy schedule also includes taking to the streets with her pink boxing gloves to hand out information about breast cancer to increase awareness and “knockout” myths about the disease. She also provides financial assistance to men and women who have breast cancer.
“Monetary donations are needed so I can continue to provide educational and financial support to breast cancer survivors,” she said. “Currently, I am working with a young lady [who was] diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 35. She had to resign from her job due to severe pain in her leg.”
She continued, “She was evicted from her apartment and now lives in a hotel with five of her six children. She said, ‘Miss Ruth when I got the diagnosis, I didn’t ask how long I had to live.’ I responded, ‘that was a great decision not to ask that question because you have a lifetime to live.’”
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), in 2023, about 297,790 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and approximately 43,700 women will die from the disease. ACS also notes that Black women have the highest mortality rates. This is thought to be partially because about one in five Black women with breast cancer have triple-negative breast cancer more than any other racial/ethnic group.
“Many Black women have what they think is a rash on their breast,” said Dr. Travis. “By the time they get to the doctor, they have stage three and stage four breast cancer. All women under the age of 40 should check their breasts each month to see if there are any changes. One way to remember to check is to examine your breasts on your birth date each month. The key is early detection.”
Dr. Travis is also seeking to open Ruth’s Pink House, which she says will be a beautiful pink home where women with breast cancer can come for a night or weekend of restoration and relaxation.
“To date, donations to Ruth’s Pink House have provided educational and financial support to 64 breast cancer survivors,” she said.
Dr. Travis is the former Sr. Pastor of Ebenezer African American Methodist (A.M.E.) in South Baltimore, retiring from the position in 2017. However, she has not retired from the ministry, still preaching at services, conferences, and other speaking engagements. The former Physical Education teacher is a native of Augusta, Georgia and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Dr. Travis recommended those who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer to read “I’ve Been Diagnosed, Now What?: Courageously Fighting Cancer in the Face of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” by Katrece Nolan.
“I also suggest those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to create a theme for themselves. My personal motto is taken from the words of the singer, Jill Scott ‘living my life like it’s golden.’”
Her other suggestions include joining a support group such as The Journey Continues and a living environment that is peaceful, neat and clean.
“Also, understand your diagnosis is NOT a death sentence, but a license to live,” said Dr. Travis.
The breast cancer awareness advocate said that individuals can feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org To donate or for more information about Ruth’s Pink House, visit https://drruthtravis.com/pink-house. You can also learn more about Dr. Travis at www.drruthtravis.com.