11 May The Chrysalis Initiative
In today’s guest post, we learn about how our partner, The Chrysalis Initiative, got started, what inspired Jamil Rivers to pursue this meaningful work, and what they do to disrupt outcome disparities within breast cancer.
– As someone who has been personally impacted by MBC, you have taken your experiences and created an initiative to help those who are going through it, tell us more about the Chrysalis Initiative and why you started it?
The Chrysalis Initiative was born from the need demonstrated from the dearth of support and resources available to Black women with breast cancer and their unique challenges. A breast cancer diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming. The Chrysalis Initiative ensures that patients are empowered to navigate through all the complexities of breast cancer care by matching them with a breast cancer coach trained on the Chrysalis curriculum model. The Chrysalis Initiative also provides solutions to providers on how to eliminate systemic bias and racism from impacting patients in the care setting. The vision of The Chrysalis Initiative is a world in which the color of one's skin does not create a barrier to quality health care.
– Why is it important for providers to be aware of these biases?
Unless we address the root causes of these disparities which are systemic bias and racism, there will not be any improvement. Black women are dying at a 42% higher rate and the risk of death from breast cancer is 71% higher in comparison to their white counterparts. Providers motivated to deliver equitable cancer care can get the systemic bias and racism out of the way. Even with the best systems in place, these biases can derail care delivery and cause harm to patients. Eliminating these biases improves outcomes in care for patients, cancer centers and clinical trials. Also, it is important for providers to acknowledge and understand that awareness and training are not enough. Intervention is critical to eliminate racial gaps.
– Throughout this process of starting this initiative, what advice do you wish you knew?
I'm making an impact on one patient, one health system and one clinical trial at a time. I wish I knew how to make a bigger and significant impact in a shorter period of time.
– Tell us why you were inspired to create The Chrysalis Initiative?
I remember how devastated and alone I felt when I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Fortunately, I was assertive enough to learn to advocate for myself to receive quality care. However, I know there are many women that feel hopeless and overwhelmed and need support in navigating through the challenges of a breast cancer diagnosis. Knowing what quality care looks like and feels like is important to ensure you can advocate to attain it for yourself. Also, we need to eradicate the systemic racism and bias aid and abetting cancer to reduce the challenges patients have to deal with.
– What challenges are you currently facing?
We need to reach a large patient population so getting the word out and increasing patient awareness and engagement is critical for us. The earlier in their diagnosis patients connect to us, the lower their vulnerability to disparities is reduced. We are vetting partners to help with some of the challenges these women are facing. We are also pursuing funding opportunities to ensure that we can provide our services at no cost to the patients.
– What can we look forward to seeing from The Chrysalis Initiative in the coming months?
Growth! We're focused on growing the number of women and caregivers we support to 30,000, the number of health systems who adopt the Chrysalis model to 50 cancer centers and the number of cities we are operating in to 30. We also have our new app coming soon and a calendar of events to engage with the community.
– You do so much! What motivates you to keep going and continue to build?
My family motivates me to keep going and living with MBC as long as I possibly can. The women we help through The Chrysalis Initiative push me to do all I can to grow our impact and reach. It is incredible to see the transformation of someone who is in crisis, scared and seeking solutions then become someone with a positive outlook, stable disease, confident and empowered with patient education. I want the disparities in breast cancer for Black women to be reduced to zero. We're saving lives and nothing beats that!
– If our listeners want to support the cause, what should they do?
Please visit our website at https://thechrysalisinitiative.org/ and donate. Encourage women with breast cancer, caregivers and cancer centers to connect with us to receive support.
– If they are interested in learning more, where can they find you?
Please visit us at https://thechrysalisinitiative.org/ and connect with us on social media.