Working hand in hand with Ebony on Bubbles and Bling is Cati Diamond Stone. Cati recently left a Fortune 500 company to come to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She is a trial lawyer by trade but after her diagnosis and treatment she left the left the corporate world for the breast cancer cause.
rolling out: What made you realize that something was wrong were there any signs?
Cati: No. I was 35 and healthy in all regards, my cancer was caught during a routine screening I went into gynecologist’s office for an exam and it was caught on a clinical test.
rolling out: And what went through your mind when you first heard the words that you had cancer?
Cati: I was very surprised because I was 35 years old and in very good shape. No family history of cancer. But as with everything I my life I made a plan. I knew survival was in my sights and I went after it.
rolling out: What was your main motivation that kept you going through all of this?
Cati: I had a daughter who was 16 months old. I did not want her to see me sick and I did not want my sickness to impact her.
rolling out: When should breast education be started for women?
Cati: It’s very important that breast health should start very early for women and girls. Unfortunately we are seeing an increase in early diagnoses for women and girls so we need to start talking early on in their 20’s. I don’t thinks it’s too early to talk to someone about breast education when they are a teenager.
rolling out: One of the statistics that Ebony Steele gave me was that more black women die from this disease than white women. What has the Susan G. Komen Foundation of greater Atlanta done to reach all demographics?
Cati: The Circle of Promise is one program that was put in place to talk to African-American women about their unique risks. As Ebony said, the incident rate is lower but the death rate is higher. What we learned is that African American women tend to have more triple negative cancers, so they are much harder to treat because there is no targeted therapy. Therefore early detection is vital in the African-American community. We focus on educating women in our community because the earlier it is detected the more likely you are to survive.
rolling out: What 3 Words of advice can you give a woman who has been newly diagnosed?
Cati: Be educated- You want to make sure you understand what is happening and be an advocate in your treatment. Be Bold. Not only in taking care of yourself but be bold in the decisions you make because you’ve been given a second chance at life and don’t waste it, figure out what that means for you. Be thankful. Because so many people are going to be rallying around you be thankful for that and what a gift it is.
rolling out: How does your organization advocate for healthcare when it comes to breast cancer?
Cati: We do it on a national level which is based out of Dallas but also on a local level. We focus on the woman of greater Atlanta the women in our own ‘backyard’. We are working on an oral chemotherapy parity bill which will be introduced into the legislature to make sure that all people have access to the oral therapy. This is for people that cannot make it into an office for IV treatments; the idea is to make sure that the oral drug is covered at the same level as the IV drug.