The Black Women Rising cancer support project was set up in 2017 by award-winning community champion Leanne Pero after she struggled with the aftermath of her own battle with breast cancer at just 30 years old.
In her quest to find the right services to aid her, Leanne soon realised that the NHS lacked cancer support packages for BAME cancer patients. Further investigation into the visibility of BAME cancer patients in the UK started to unravel that in most instances, the cancer stories of her community were being excluded from the UK’s mainstream media outlets, magazines, daily tabloids and more damagingly from reputable annual cancer campaigns by brands and charities failing miserably at diversifying their campaigns.
This further fuelled the false narrative amongst the BAME Community that cancer is not a “black disease”.
As well as these generic injustices, the unhelpful myths and taboos surrounding cancer within the BAME community had ultimately stopped people from speaking out about their ordeals, leading to a lack of awareness and education within BAME households around cancer, its signs and symptoms. This ultimately led to the devastating outcomes of late-stage diagnoses and higher mortality rates in some cancers than their white counterparts.
Leanne has met many women and men who were either misdiagnosed, not offered mental health support and generally left feeling excluded from communication with their consultants which echoed the many other health inequalities in the BAME community.
It was then that Leanne decided to create her own platform to showcase these stories and provide vital support for Black cancer patients and survivors as they undergo daunting cancer treatments and experience difficulty in the tricky remission stage.
Registered charity The Leanne Pero Foundation gave birth to its first project - the Black Women Rising Cancer support project.
In its small lifetime, The Black Women Rising project created the UK’s first all-Black cancer portrait exhibition that has toured London’s Southbank, The Oxo Tower and is due to exhibit at the Tate Gallery in 2021.
The heart of the project lies in its monthly peer-to-peer support groups. It has also run many pamper events for women of colour and had members featured in many cancer awareness brand campaigns such as PrettyLittleThing, Stella McCartney, Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Campaign, GHD and Zalando to name just a few.
Black Women Rising has a popular weekly podcast that tells stories of their inspirational women. The Black Men Rising podcast launched in October 2020 with a 12 part series.
The most recent success of Black Women Rising has seen the launch of the Black Women Rising Magazine which will serve as another opportunity to empower women of colour as they navigate their cancer journeys.
The mission at Black Women Rising is to educate, inspire and bring opportunities for women from the BAME community, to connect with one another and share their stories, without fear or shame.
Empowered women empower women.