Houston baptist church hosts free genetic screening, breast cancer tests

The Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston offered its third onsite free breast cancer test and genetic screening on Sunday, March 12. Image: National Cancer Institute|Unsplash

Houston's Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church conducted its third onsite free genetic screening and breast cancer tests on Sunday, specifically targeting Black community beneficiaries.

According to the Houston Public Media website, the church at Third Ward partnered with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to make the activity possible.

Details of the Event

The event, "Worship in Pink," occurred on March 12, Sunday, from 9:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at 3826 Wheeler Ave. in Houston. According to Houston Public Media, the initiative sought to offer Black community members free breast health information to prevent the disease. 

"Using the safety of a trusted environment, like a church, for some people that is a very trusted environment. We wanted to see if that shifted the thoughts around genetic counseling and testing for the Black community," Natasha Mmeje told Houston Public Media.

MMeje is the Komen foundation's director of education and community outreach. She disclosed that at least 40% of Black women with breast cancer are more likely to die than white women.

She said they successfully pinpointed over 50% of the participants as having a high risk of developing breast cancer from the initial runs of Worship in Pink. The identified participants were given the green light for the genetic screening. Mmeje explained that they realized they were helping the right community through such outcomes.

Mmeje added that they offered genetic testing alongside breast cancer tests for women they identified as having a higher risk of getting the illness. She said many of those who had the genetic screening said it was their first being offered such a procedure.

The report said Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church and the Komen foundation tapped the MD Anderson Cancer Center, which sent healthcare professionals who questioned participants' family health and personal history. Such information allowed the healthcare workers to better understand and determine the right approach to a participant's breast cancer test and genetic screening needs.

Meanwhile, Komen foundation representatives disclosed that breast cancer occurs due to genetic mutation and affects only under 10% of the population diagnosed with the illness. The representatives argued that educating people about cancer prevention is still important despite such a low percentage.

Giving Back

One of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church's members and volunteers for Worship in Pink was ReShonda Smith. She told Houston Public Media that she volunteers as a nurse for the program as her way of 'giving back' for the help she and her mother got when the latter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Smith pointed out that many in the Black community do not get the same kind of help that she and her mother received. Smith, also an MD Anderson staff member, disclosed that they got quick access to proper healthcare because she had insurance that covered the procedures and expenses.

"The day of her diagnosis, there were people advocating for my mother. And I realize that this is not the situation for most people, especially minorities. When you get the diagnosis of cancer, sometimes you don't even know what to do," Smith told Houston Public Media.

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