Saturday Nov. 14, the new community organization Square Circles hosted its first breast cancer survivors meeting at Sistas’ Place in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Although the meeting was initially for survivors and their supporters, all types of people came out to share and support. Attendees ranged from those having had an experience of watching their loved ones dealing with the disease to those just being inspired by hearing survivors’ stories. The event took place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and it was mainly an open discussion in which survivors and others shared their stories.

“What shocked me the most is the fact that so many men came out to support,” Nayaba Arinde said. “It was interesting to hear their point of view of witnessing the disease.”

Arinde, who is also the editor of the AmNews, founded the organization earlier this year. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. She went through many operations and chemotherapy and was told that the cancer has been in remission since 2008.

Arinde noted a study that says Black women are the group with the greatest increase in cancer diagnoses. “Even though we are greatly impacted by this and other cancers—increasingly so—our stories are not often shown. We are not as visible as our numbers would deem, and women of color don’t talk about it in family or community circles perhaps in the way we should to let sufferers know there is support. So I have created a support group that will inspire other women that we can fight through the battle as well as help each other.”

Square Circles plans to provide information that women can use as resources.

Speakers at the event included survivor Bishop Michel White Haynes from the Cathedral at Greater Faith, who spoke on faith and spirituality. Dr. Dawn Aldrich, co-founder of Solutions Cancer Resource Center, spoke on the need for people to fiercely advocate for themselves with medical professionals and demand the best care. Co-sponsor Viola Plummer from the December 12th Movement told people about the effectiveness of alternative holistic practices. State Sen. Kevin Parker, who also co-sponsored the event, advised the standing-room-only audience to support Square Circles and also push elected officials for bills to combat health treatment disparities within the Black community.

Politicians and well-known community activists, such as Assemblyman Charles Barron, Councilwoman Inez Barron, District Leader Olanike Alabi and the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, came out and supported the event. The audience was comprised of survivors, supporters, community residents and members of different organizations, such as the Nation of Islam and Sisters Building Sisters.

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