In partnership with Dr. Onyinye Balogun in Radiation Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine, Dr. Amelia Greiner Safi (Public and Ecosystem Health), MPH students Jennifer Gil and Nyaradzo Sirewu, and Global Health student Hannah Lee have launched their nation-wide study to understand experiences of Black patients with gynecologic cancers, funded by a partnership building grant from the Cornell Center for Health Equity. The study team goes well beyond Cornell and is built of gynecologic cancer survivors, advocates for those survivors, oncologists, Michigan Oncology Quality Consortium (MOQC), the Black Cancer Collaborative, SHARE Cancer Support in NYC, Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit, social work researchers, gynecologic research advocates, and students have come together in a group they have coined BVOGUE (Black Voices on Gynecologic Cancer: Understanding Experiences). BVOGUE’s aim over the coming years is to better understand and ultimately design and implement interventions to help address the racial disparities in gynecologic cancer outcomes and survival in the United States.
BVOGUE just began recruiting Black gynecologic cancer survivors to participate in one of several focus groups in order to learn about their lived experiences of the diagnosis and treatment process (see flyer and BVOGUE website). The team received such interest that we have already added more focus group sessions.
This effort is a collaborative and community engaged one: the entire team worked together to design the study, decide on focus group questions, develop recruitment materials and processes and connect with survivors. One of the community partners – who happens to be Black and a gynecologic cancer survivor herself – has gone through training with Dr. Safi and the team in order to lead the focus group series. The team anticipates that this formative work will be the seed for a much larger, multi-year effort aimed at impacting policy and practice.
The work is already having an internal impact on the students.
- “For the first time in my public health education, I have the opportunity to work on a project whose sole purpose is to advance Black health, and I’m really enjoying every minute of it.” -Nyaradzo Sirewu
- “I greatly appreciate all of the opportunities BVOGUE has given me to learn and grow as a student, future OBGYN, activist, and leader. I’ve even been able to perform my own individual research project that includes creating care packages for patients in the survivorship phase, learning from survivors about how to properly care for Black gynecological cancer patients.” – Hannah Choi Lee
- “BVOGUE has not only given me the opportunity to work alongside people I really admire, but also has allowed me to help build a project that involves the two areas I am most passionate about: gynecology and public health. Keeping professional strides aside, this project has deeper significance to me on a personal level because it aims to eliminate racism in healthcare attention and it is focused on those who are at most need.” Jennifer Gil, MD