RICHMOND, Va. -- The recent visit from First Lady Jill Biden is putting the work happening at VCU Massey Cancer Center in the national spotlight -- even more.
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," said Dr. Robert Winn, director of VCU Massey Cancer Center, during Dr. Jill Biden's visit last week.
A big part of that "care" is addressing health and racial disparities. It's an issue that got the attention of the first lady.
Massey is looking at how to make treatment and access to treatment more equitable for all patients and for all cancers.
"VCU was selected one of nine across the country," explained Juanita Thompson with the American Cancer Society.
The American Cancer Society and Pfizer awarded Massey a $400,000 grant to focus on systemic race-related barriers in cancer, especially among people of color.
"When it comes to racial disparities it could be the same practitioner, but different conversations," Thompson said.
Thompson said treatment for African Americans tends to be more reactive than preventative which can lead to a late and more serious diagnosis.
"Educate our peers when it comes to the medical field about having conversations that will bring about preventative measures for African Americans and those at greater risk," Thompson said.
Researcher and project lead Dr. Katherine Tossas said her work with this grant started with five health centers in Danville, Martinsville, Brunswick, and two in Richmond.
"And we asked them to identify a community organization they can partner with," Dr. Tossas said. "The community is really going to be at the table."
They will all identify issues, specifically for colon and cervical cancer, and implement a solution.
"This will actually lead to some meaningful changes that are going to be tangible in the next year. The next two years, " Dr. Tossas said.
Dr. Tossas hopes it will lead to better screenings and follow-up care for the patients.
On the 6th of the month, CBS 6 and VCU Massey Cancer Center remind women to contact their buddy to remind them to conduct a monthly breast self-exam. If it is time, you should also schedule an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram, which are key to early detection.