Fighting 4 the Tatas Breast Cancer Inc., an Inland Empire organization educating and advocating on behalf of Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), Triple negative IBC and Metastatic patients, has been operating since it was founded in 2011 by IBC fighter Joshlyn Earls, a 60-year-old black woman.
More recently, the organization has benefitted the IBC community by teaming up with California Senator Connie Leyva and Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes to approve Resolutions SCR-97 and ACH-94 declaring October 3 Inflammatory Breast Cancer Awareness Day in the state of California; it encourages all Californians to learn about this rare and aggressive type of breast cancer, and to support all people who are impacted.
The impact of the Resolutions passing is monumental for this quick spreading disease, which affects both women and men, diagnosed in women of younger ages and is often dismissed by doctors because they are too young to have breast cancer, not IBC.
As of October 2020, Fighting for the Tatas Breast Cancer Inc. remains the only 501C3 in the state educating, advocating and promoting on behalf of this lethal form of sub-breast cancer.
This fast growing, incredibly aggressive breast cancer that gives the breast a swollen, inflamed appearance, (hence the name inflammatory) appears as an infection. If you are diagnosed with it, you’re automatically at stage 3b or higher. This breast cancer, unlike other breast cancers, does not feel like a lump. It is hard to detect on mammograms so many doctors catch it when it’s too late.
There are an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 new cases of IBC diagnosed annually, according to Dr. Massiom Cristofanilli of Northwestern University. It is this very reason why Fighting 4 the Tatas Breast Cancer Inc. has chosen to be a symbol of strength for not only black women and men in the Inland Empire, but for everyone fighting this deadly disease that often leads to a lonely journey while undergoing treatment.
Aside from Fighting 4 the Tatas essential services to patients, its advocacy and fundraising, the black-led organization is monumental not only to the greater community, but to the black women and women of color as a whole; especially due to the implicit bias blacks face in healthcare.
“As a black woman undergoing treatment for IBC, it was a little degrading due to the lack of information and lack of my doctor’s willingness to answer my questions. My experience consisted of not being given the same healthcare opportunities of my white counterparts,” said Earls. “When it came to certain tests that my counterparts received, such as the MUGA Test (multigated blood-pool imaging), it was not given to me, but was given to them! I found out after my chemo.”
Earls found out from an associate that she should have been provided the MUGA test, which is given to determine whether or not a patient’s body can tolerate the chemo.
After the fact, when she went to the doctors, he asked, “Well, do you want a MUGA test?” Joshlyn agreed and found out that she had an enlarged heart; luckily she lived.
Although COVID-19 has presented unprecedented circumstances, Fighting 4 the Tatas Breast Cancer Inc. continues to showcase resiliency as it recently kicked off Inflammatory Breast Cancer Awareness Day by hosting its Bling for the Tatas fundraising event on Facebook Live on October 3.
Search https://www.facebook.com/Fighting4Tatas to assist the organization in raising funds to continue offering IBC, TTN and Metastatic patients with counseling services, advocacy on behalf of the patients, educational classes, health and beauty items, emergency utility funding and more.
“When I was diagnosed in 2011 with Inflammatory Breast Cancer I was given two-and-a-half years to live…it’s such a lonely journey, because no one understands. I remember at one point placing an ad in a number of newspapers just to connect to another person who has undergone treatment for IBC. It’s so important for our organization to raise funds for this disease because our support services provide a space for patients to connect, understand and receive accurate information regarding this deadly disease,” concluded Earls.
For more information or to donate, visit https://www.fighting4thetatas.org.