Mary J. Blige is leading a new breast cancer campaign aimed at Black women after confessing she ignored breast cancer screenings and mammograms until she was 40.
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the 50-year-old “Family Affair” singer hopes to bring attention to breast cancer screenings and preventative care in an effort to save lives.
Taking part in a panel discussion organized by bosses at Hologic, the company behind the 3D Mammogram exam, Mary urged women of color to set aside medical mistrust and negative experiences with doctors and make sure they stay on top of cancer check-ups.
“My aunt died from breast cancer and my grandmother died from cervical cancer and one of my aunts just died from lung cancer,” Blige said, according to The Source. “What happens is they end up in the hospital and there’s no one in our families speaking about it when we’re younger.
“I didn’t know about breast cancer or mammograms until I was 40 and I was in the music business and I was trying to take care of myself. My body started talking so I started listening. I found out about it at the GYN (gynecologist). They don’t discuss this when we’re children. They don’t say, ‘Go get a mammogram’. You learn about this as you get older.”
Mary said it’s “extremely important” to let women know, “that no matter how scary it is or who’s telling you it’s scary, take care of you. Take care of your health… I want to help women heal from breast cancer. I want to help us feel beautiful all the way around.”
Screening tests include clinical and self breast exams, mammograms, genetic testing, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Screenings help to detect breast cancer early in asymptomatic women to improve outcomes.