Maryland professor urges anti-racism principles in cancer research
A Maryland professor has argued that too few anti-racist principles are incorporated into cancer research – and the effects could weigh heavily on patients.
Dr. Christabel Cheung, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, argued last month that racism in the medical field — even subtle microaggressions — can negatively impact health. and recovery of a patient.
Cheung offered several recommendations to better include patients who identify as Black, Indigenous or of color in research programs at a symposium hosted by the University of Michigan School of Social Work.
Achieving Health Equity in Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Psycho-Oncology Care weighed a number of biases that may impact disparities in patient care, including gender and mental illness.
“We want to offer you best practices on how to better interact with BIPOC AYA cancer patients so that we can improve knowledge, center patient wisdom, and prevent unnecessary suffering that is happening right now,” a- she declared.
“It is very important for us to be aware of the socio-political context in which we find ourselves at the moment.”
The National Cancer Institute defines AYA oncology as cancer care or research for cancer patients between the ages of 15 and 39.
Cheung began his presentation by defining anti-racism through the framework of Ibrahim X. Kendi, the architect of anti-racist ideology.
“There’s nothing like not being racist,” she said. “The heartbeat of racism on a national level in the United States has been the denial of racism, and the sound of that heartbeat has been the argument, ‘I’m not a racist.'”
Cheung – who identifies as BICOP and is a two-time survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma during her AYA years – said she has experienced firsthand the intricacies of racism patients experience in the medical system.
After studying 32 BIPOC AYA cancer patients—and asking them to share their experiences when transparency, honesty, and trust were violated—Cheung and his team of researchers made several recommendations that professionals can follow “by terms of promoting anti-racist approaches”.
Engaging with those most affected by the research, providing detailed details about what the research would involve, compensating patients who participate in the study, and avoiding “persistent symbolism” were among Cheung’s suggestions.
“Being a BIPOC AYA advocate myself…I was the Asian girl with a service dog,” Cheung said of her time as a research cohort patient.
“We knew who the black cisgender woman was, we knew who the gay and black AYA representative was. We became symbolic in these roles and it was unfair to us and unfair to the general population because we cannot represent the range of issues that all marginalized and minoritized AYAs face.
Cheung did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment.
New York Post