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As a Black woman from the South, Javacia has used the written word to explore issues of gender and race as well as religion. Find Your Way Back is a collection of essays that demonstrate how Javacia has used writing to achieve some of her wildest dreams such as being a public speaker, having her own column, and being her own boss. The book also explores how writing, self-love, and faith helped her overcome her worst nightmare: a cancer diagnosis in 2020. Javacia’s goal is to show readers how writing can transform their lives as well. The book includes prompts throughout to help readers start their own writing journey.
This book is for the woman who has wanted to write since she was a girl but struggles to find the time or the courage to put her words on paper. Find Your Way Back, shows that instead of putting writing on the back burner when life gets turned upside down, we should turn to it to help life make sense again.
Read an Excerpt
- from I’m Feeling Lucky – and Enraged
When it comes to health care, I’ve always been lucky. My lupus diagnosis in 2008 didn’t come after spending years visiting doctor after doctor, searching for answers to questions of chronic pain. I mentioned my fatigue, achy joints, vitiligo spots, and bouts of Raynaud’s disease to my primary care physician at the time as casually as someone rattling off a grocery list. She looked at me and said, “We need to test you for lupus.”
Years later, in a new state with a new doctor, I once again had a proactive primary care doc who urged me to get a mammogram, even though I was in my thirties. Breast cancer is often diagnosed in its later stages for women under forty, which means the survival rate is lower and the recurrence rate is higher. And while Black women and white women get breast cancer at about the same rate, Black women are more likely to be diagnosed before age 45 and, regardless of age, Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women.
Even when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age thirty-eight, I still felt lucky. I felt lucky that I had insurance that covered my treatment. I felt lucky that whenever I said I was in pain, my doctors and nurses believed me and scrambled to do something about it.
I felt lucky because in 2020, thirty million people were uninsured, and about half of those were people of color, according to The Brookings Institution, a research and public policy organization in Washington, DC. I felt lucky because both anecdotal evidence and published studies reveal that many medical professionals don’t take Black people’s pain seriously. According to a 2016 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, half the medical students surveyed had false beliefs such as “black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s.” And trainees who believed that Black people are not as sensitive to pain as white people were less likely to treat Black people’s pain appropriately.
The staggering Black maternal mortality rates show that this type of implicit bias can be deadly. According to the CDC, each year about seven hundred people in the United States die during pregnancy or the year after. Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. I feel lucky, and I feel angry because I shouldn’t feel lucky! Affordable health care and being listened to and taken seriously by your doctors should be the norm for everyone.
I will use my privilege and my platform to try to do something about this. I’ve written stories about the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which seeks to use legislation to address every aspect of the maternal health crisis in America. And I’ve written about the CDC’s Hear Her campaign, which seeks to improve communication between patients and their doctors and help to make healthcare providers, patients, and their families more aware of the warning signs of potentially life-threatening complications. I’ve had the chance to be a voice for other breast cancer patients of color in sessions with healthcare providers thanks to the work of organizations like the Tigerlily Foundation, which provides breast cancer education, awareness, advocacy and support for women ages 15 to 45, with a focus on women of color.
Even though I’m a writer, sometimes words aren’t enough. So, I will keep writing, but I also will keep fighting.
About the Author
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