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ORGANIZATION WANTS TO BRING AWARENESS TO BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER

9/23/2020, noon
Beulah Brent uses her experience and knowledge of the healthcare system to bring awareness to breast and cervical cancer in ...
Beulah Brent is the CEO of Sisters Working it Out, a non-profit organization that brings awareness to breast and cervical cancer to undeserved communities on the South and West sides of Chicago. Photo courtesy of Beulah Brent

Organization Wants To Bring Awareness to Breast and Cervical Cancer

BY TIA CAROL JONES

Beulah Brent uses her experience and knowledge of the healthcare system to bring awareness to breast and cervical cancer in minority and underserved communities on the South and West sides of Chicago.

Brent is the CEO, of Sisters Working it Out. The non-profit has been in existence for 19 years. Its goal is to eliminate the disparities for breast cancer in the Chicago area. It facilitates programs which serve to educate women, as well as connect them to quality preventative health care services. It was founded by Dr. Monica Peek, a general internal medicine physician at University of Chicago Medicine.

While Brent was the manager of the mammography unit in the radiology department, she began to see the disparities in the Black and brown communities when it came to breast cancer. Brent talked to Peek about the incredibly high disparities. They worked to put resources together and to partner with community organizations to form Sisters Working it Out.

Because of Brent’s relationship with Stroger Hospital, where she worked for more than 30 years, she was able to build relationships with other healthcare providers to assist in Sisters Working it Out’s mission. She said the organization was able to reach out to those hospitals and provide access to care for women who didn’t have health insurance or those who were underinsured.

One thing Sisters Working It Out was able to do, was to have a bus to take women to get their mammograms. Brent said the work Sisters Working it Out is very important to the community.

“We educate to save lives. Our community is not aware, or doesn’t know, the importance of health. So, to be able to go out and educate is what we do,” she said.

Brent said the organization has trained 40 community health educators to go out into the communities and facilitate programs to bring awareness and education. She said the most challenging part of the work she does is to get Black people to understand the importance of healthcare.

“Because of our experience with the Tuskegee Experiment and all the things that happen to us with research, we are fearful,” she said. “So, our community doesn’t trust the healthcare system. We have to participate in research, we have to participate in clinical trials. We have to if we want to help our community.”

Brent said the way you get people to trust the healthcare system, is to have a relationship with doctors and staff who can help people get over their fears.

“Doctors are humans just like us,” she said. “How do we get them to trust, it’s to continue to talk and [to] continue [to] educate. To continue to get the word out, we have to take care of ourselves better than what we’re doing.”

Brent said one part of the work that she does that she finds most fulfilling, is incorporating younger women who are dealing with breast cancer. There is a portion of the organization called Little Sisters Working it Out. Young women from that group participated in a photo shoot. She said it was fulfilling to watch them.

“I’ve been doing this for 19 years, but to watch someone that young, that beautiful, that intelligent, that came together to embrace each other to say, ‘hey, we need to tell our story.’ So, to watch someone that young made a difference in how I felt about the work I’m doing,” Brent said.

During COVID-19, the organization has been giving out care packages to people as well as Personal Protective Equipment and food boxes.

Brent said her passion to help people comes from helping out her own family when it came to matters of healthcare and seeing people who didn’t have that same kind of advocacy.

“I think my passion for that was, just seeing people who weren’t able to do that for themselves and become an advocate for them,” she said. “That advocacy is everything. You just need someone to sit beside you and say, ‘I got you.’ “

For more information about Sisters Working it Out, visit www.sistersworkingitout.com.