Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus: Kelly D.

Coping Through Crisis: Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus

Kelly D.

Photos by Rathkopf Photography

As an African-American young adult who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Kelly is no stranger to the health disparities that the US is seeing with Coronavirus.


In the young breast cancer community, incidence rates are twice as high for African-American women than Caucasian women. African-American women are also three times more likely to die of breast cancer than Caucasian women of the same age.

Kelly has found as an African American throughout coronavirus, she is disheartened that the African-American community is being treated with such disregard.

The CDC has reported that while data is still being collected, at this point, there is a clear disparity in the hospitalization and death rates among African American and Hispanic communities. In New York City alone, the death rate of African Americans is double that of White and Asian persons.

Kelly knows the inequalities in the American healthcare system too well.

“We’re still, as far as our well-being and our health, we’re placed not even on a back burner. It’s kind of hard to express how you feel, you know, being a black American.”

Kelly is passionate that for African Americans dealing with the US healthcare system, everyone has to be their own advocate.

It’s something she has experience in, not only being African American but also as a young adult with breast cancer. The young adult community is often written off and dismissed, left to advocate for what they need.

“You have to be your own advocate. You have to be your own doctor. You have to go in and fight honestly for what our ancestors fought for and for what your job pays for. It is unfortunate that even in this pandemic, the health of African Americans is still not being taken seriously.”

Kelly is hopeful that this pandemic serves as a wake-up call for many that these health disparities are real. There is so much work left to be done for African-American communities to not only survive but thrive.

YSC and Rathkopf Photography have partnered for Mental Health Awareness Month to draw attention to the fear, anxiety, and isolation that COVID-19 triggers in young adults affected by breast cancer. Media often focuses on those in active treatment, but the consequences of cancer can last years after diagnosis. As the world grapples with its ‘new normal,’ these 5 survivors and thrivers navigate an already permanently altered life after cancer now compounded by COVID-19. Follow their stories all May.

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Coping Through Crisis: Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus

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