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Join Us in Recognizing National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week

Image depicting happy African-American family.

By: Richard Pazdur, MD, Director, Oncology Center of Excellence (OCE), and Rea Blakey, Associate Director for External Outreach and Engagement, OCE 

If you’ve ever heard the inspirational quote, “Be the change you wish to see,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Oncology Center of Excellence (OCE) has an opportunity for you. Join the “4th Annual National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week, Engaging the Generations” initiative and the #BlackFamCan social media campaign this year, June 13-19. The event is virtual and open to the public. Register now for the June 13 Conversations on Cancer public panel discussion which will be live streamed from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. ET. Confirmed panelists include:

  • Brenda Adjei, EdD, MPA, Associate Director, Office of Healthcare Delivery and Equity Research, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health 
  • Rea Blakey, Associate Director, External Outreach and Engagement, OCE, FDA 
  • Otis W. Brawley, MD, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Oncology and Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University; Former Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, American Cancer Society 
  • Laura Crandon, President and Founder of TOUCH4LIFE™ 
  • Robert Ginyard, Prostate Cancer Awareness Advocate  
  • Charlene E. Le Fauve, PhD, Senior Advisor for Health Equity, Center for Tobacco Products, FDA 
  • Richard Pazdur, MD, Director, OCE, FDA 
Richard Pazdur, M.D
Richard Pazdur, MD

In addition to virtually attending, create your own community engagement offerings and spread the word about the National Black Family Cancer Awareness social media campaign that week. The awareness initiative aims to marshal community-based stakeholders to build knowledge surrounding cancer clinical trial participation and minority population specimen donations to national genomic databases for cancer research. Use OCE’s easy-to-post graphics and videos available in the online social media toolkit. Amplify awareness all week, and throughout the year, using #BlackFamCan or customize messages to specific audiences. 

In the US, Blacks have the highest cancer death rate for most leading cancer types. National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week is an effort to raise awareness about this disparity and to highlight the importance of family cancer history, prevention, screening, and clinical trials.  

Participants can engage online throughout the week via any social media platforms they choose. Participants are also urged to remain committed to coordinating their own in-person activities. Organize educational talks in your community led by knowledgeable trusted resources. Arrange meetups for exercise and family gatherings. Coordinate efforts to help community members make and keep cancer screening appointments. Socialize and share scientifically accurate information from knowledgeable cancer resources. Work with advocacy groups, friends, families, underserved communities, health care providers and cancer centers. Encourage everyone to “engage the generations” during National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week and be the change they wish to see by taking action to increase awareness and reduce cancer disparity.  

Rea Blakey, Associate Director for External Outreach and Engagement, OCE
Rea Blakey

The week of awareness has room for everyone! Previous participants represent everyone from individual cancer advocates and their families, community groups interested in health equity, national and international cancer community influencers like advocacy groups, NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, the American Cancer Society, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Society of Clinical Oncologists. 

Last year, celebrity cancer participants included actor/producer Sonequa Martin-Green of “Star Trek: Discovery” and actor/producer Chandra Wilson of “Grey's Anatomy.” You can watch videos of them on the NBFCAW toolkit webpage and watch previous Conversations on Cancer.

National Black Family Cancer Awareness engagement among faith-based organizations and church members, current and former students of Historically Black Colleges and Institutions, and venerable Black sororities and fraternities (The Divine 9) is strongly encouraged.

We hope you’ll use the week as a springboard – to take the time to educate each other about the importance of African American family cancer history, clinical trial participation, reducing cancer risk factors like tobacco use, and obesity, and getting current on cancer screenings.  

OCE created this weeklong social media campaign and engagement event in 2021 partially in response to the national movement to promote racial equity, and also in accordance with the January 2021 Presidential Executive Order, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, Section 8.” National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week, #BlackFamCan, was timed to align annually with the Juneteenth federal holiday, National Cancer Survivorship Month and Men’s Health Month.    

Find out more here:

National Black Family Cancer Awareness
Conversations on Cancer


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