The Cancer Mavericks EP7: Cancer Doesn't Suck Equally


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A cancer diagnosis sucks no matter what — but factors like income, education, racism, geography, housing, and access to health care, known as "social determinants of health," can worsen the burden. When researchers zoom out from individual experiences and survey cancer survivors, they see patterns called social determinants of health. Individual circumstances such as economic stability, physical environment, racial bias, proximity to a provider, or fluency in that provider's language can influence a survivor's health outcome before any cancer treatment begins. In this episode, we share stories of cancer mavericks who rebelled against the foreshadowing of health disparities. 23-year survivor Mary P. Lovato started a support group at her pueblo in New Mexico that expanded to reach American Indian and Alaska Native tribes across the United States. After learning she had breast cancer at 31, Maimah Karmo made it her mission to advocate for young women, Black women, and those with metastatic disease — and to end health disparities in our lifetime. Finally, health disparities researcher Dr. Carmen Guerra shares how the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center nearly doubled the number of Black patients in its clinical trials. For more information about this series, visit

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