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Today, October 19, The American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF) celebrates Indigenous Pink Day to honor Native American breast cancer survivors.
 
“As a Native national organization, we do this to provide opportunities to talk about cancer, normalize the conversation, and also raise awareness of the importance of early detection and on-time screening. It’s really important to us,” Melissa Buffalo (Meskwaki), Chief Executive Officer, told Native News Online. 

According to the AICAF, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among Native women. This data reflects the most current information available (2017) on Indigenous populations within the United States, but these trends in cancer diagnosis and mortality have remained unchanged. 

Throughout October, AICAF has partnered with Indigenous breast cancer survivors, cancer caregivers, and tribal and urban Indian clinics to share culturally tailored resources to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and screening. 

“Timely screening is really important and not just getting your mammogram once and being good,” Lindsey Petras, cancer programs manager of AICAF, told Native News Online. “Doing it routinely is really something we are trying to make sure people understand and is something we have to continue to do.”

Indigenous Pink Day aims to educate Native communities about the importance of early detection and remind women, men, non-binary, and genderfluid relatives to talk to their doctors about breast cancer screening. Early detection through regular self-exams and cancer screenings can greatly improve treatment outcomes. 

Buffalo said along with raising awareness, the organization aims to work with healthcare providers to offer culturally competent care to Native communities. 

“We want to know how we can work with the health system and providers that work within Indian health services and larger health systems to find ways to engage with their patients and understand the uniqueness that American Indians have in terms of historical trauma and mistrust with the healthcare system,” Buffalo said, 

To participate in Indigenous Pink Day, you can share photos of yourself wearing pink and take the Indigenous Pink pledge to get screened. You can share your pink-themed photos on social media using the hashtag #IndgenousPink to raise awareness of breast cancer within Indigenous communities. 

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AICAF also offers funding to Native communities who want to host their own events to raise awareness for breast cancer among Native populations. 

“We can provide micro-grants to communities on a national level, which allows the community to come up with solutions that make sense to them,” Petras said. “It’s an opportunity to invite them into this awareness arena to develop an awareness campaign for their own communities.”

The American Indian Cancer Foundation encourages everyone who supports breast cancer awareness to take the Indigenous Pink pledge and participate in Indigenous Pink Day. The organization also provides culturally tailored infographicstoolkits, and webinars to learn more about breast cancer and cancer prevention. 

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from the American Dental Association. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online. 
About The Author
Kaili Berg
Author: Kaili BergEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Reporter
Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.