Dr. April L. Spencer is a breast cancer surgeon, a mother of two, and a partner of CVS Health which specializes in women’s medical needs. On April 6, 2023, she made an appearance at the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs for the CVS Health Cultural Exhibition and Celebration in Atlanta to help educate women on breast cancer prevention. The main goal of the event was to encourage the Black community to consider clinical trials to help improve treatments and medicine.
Dr. Spencer opened up to rolling out about the importance of clinical trials, how women can combat maternal-fetal mortality, and reconstructive options for those battling breast cancer.
Why does the Black community need to educate themselves about clinical trials?
To me personally, to have an event like this to encourage African Americans to get involved in clinical trials is paramount. In many ways, we have allowed our past history with clinical research to prevent us from moving forward with more effective medication and cures. So, I love that we had conversations about the past. We talked about Henrietta Lacks, and we talked about the Tuskegee experiment but now that we are aware, we’ve got to move forward to action, so that drugs and medications can be more effective in our community.
What options do women have for reconstructive surgery after battling breast cancer?
Reconstructive options during breast cancer surgery are something that hadn’t been offered to African American women. Surprisingly enough, did you know that women of color were offered reconstruction the least of all demographics of women that were diagnosed with breast cancer? We have to realize that it’s not about vanity, it’s about sanity. So if you look good, you feel better. So, it’s important to have those conversations with your doctor about reconstructive options and refer you to a plastic surgeon, so that plastic surgeon that you’re comfortable with can communicate with your breast surgeon to come up with the best possible reconstructive plan either during surgery or after your cancer operation. Because you do have options to do it either upfront or down the road.
What 3 to 5 things can women do to help lower maternal mortality rates?
Unfortunately, as many people may know, the maternal-fetal mortality rate is highest amongst African American women, even in a first-world country like the United States. So, as African American women in order to help lower that disparity or mortality is really to try to be your own advocate. Number two, be proactive in your health. Three, make sure that you are going to your maternal visits, getting proper prenatal care, and not just when you are pregnant, but when you’re thinking about being pregnant. So, that would be my fourth piece of advice. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, go ahead and start exercising, maintaining healthy body weight, eating well, and setting your body up for success to support another human being. So, that is the most important thing and always make sure you bring someone with you during your appointment [as well as] during your birthing process so that you can have an extra set of eyes and ears to look out for you and your best interest.