East Texan Advocating Awareness, Early Detection Of Cancer In Minorities

Cancer can strike any person of any age, of any race. However, minorities in the U.S. have a much higher chance of dying from cancer. This week is National Minority Cancer Awareness week.

One East Texan hopes she can encourage others to stand up against the disease.
"She told me it was positive. I fell apart I just cried."

Dorothy Taylor cried for two days after she was diagnosed with a rare and usually fatal form of breast cancer. Then one day, she said, no more.

"I said Lord, I'm not crying anymore. I said if I'm going to walk through this, You're going to have to walk through this with me," Dorothy said.

So Dorothy fought. A fight for her life, her husband and daughter.
"Once it gets out of the breast, you are in for a battle."

The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She went through chemotherapy, a number of reconstructive surgeries, and radiation for almost a year. However, Dorothy made a full recovery. Dorothy's physician, Dr. Vulkeja with Tyler Cancer Center said minority women, especially African-American women like Dorothy, tend to have more aggressive and advanced stage cancer earlier in life.

"There is a B.P. that is found in 89 % of African-American patients with breast cancer compared to Caucasian," Dr. Vulkeja said. "It's a gene that turns on cancer cells and they grow more rapidly."
"So many of us don't make it," Dorothy said, "and so many of us are even afraid to talk about it."

Dorothy said she's blessed to have made it and wants to be a motivation for others. The loss of a friend to the same form of cancer also drives Dorothy.

"She lost her fight, to breast cancer, and I don't want to see another African-American woman die from breast cancer because she's afraid to go to the doctor. I want to fight for African-American women, not to give up, not to just sit back and do nothing, because you have a sister, you have a daughter, you have children. Don't sit there and do nothing."

Dorothy said early detection is important. She also advises to get a second opinion.
She found her breast cancer through a self-breast exam, even though it did not show up on a mammogram.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com