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Speaking to the Community of Faith

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. The program was for breast cancer awareness and they too desired to understand how mental health impacts physical health. As you know, I believe that "As the mind goes, so does the body".

While certainly there are risk factors completely biologic and genetic with cancer as a whole, there are still many opportunities for us to defeat cancer by learning coping skills for life. The one area that comes to mind readily is stress. Many people become dependent upon cigarettes, alcohol and drugs to cope with the anxiety and depression that unmanaged stress brings. As a result, cancers persist where they are most preventable. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the African-American community.

The African-American community, in particular, experiences the greatest disparities in not only access to care, but quality of care. While we work toward challenging the disparities through advocacy and education, it is vital that we make every effort to ensure we do not assist cancer in devouring our bodies. The same way in which we adorn our bodies in expensive apparel and bathe it in fragrant perfumes, we must infuse our minds with positive self-talk, dismiss unhealthy relationships, be mindful of our behaviors and core beliefs and consume skills that build self-efficacy, emotional regulation and gratitude. These skills do not come naturally, they are learned behaviors. So seek assistance from mental health professionals in your fight to stay alive by renewing your mind.

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