FLORIDA – Many people spend their whole lives looking for their life’s purpose, for Dr. Cassann Blake, it was a no-brainer.
“I initially became interested in health care at a very early age, I think I really just wanted to be able to impact the lives of people that I encountered,” Blake said, “While in residency, I met a lot of women with breast cancer, and honestly, a lot of those patients looked like me.”
Even as a resident, she felt like she made a difference in the lives of the Black patients she met.
“There were times that sometimes the other physicians that were involved, they may be had the same advice, but I think they heard it differently coming from me, and that’s how I ended up deciding on going into breast cancer surgery.” she said.
Now the Head of Breast Cancer Oncology at Cleveland Clinic Weston, Blake believes an increase in Black doctors could help alleviate racial health disparities.
“I think it’s important for patients to see physicians that they have a connection with, and sometimes that connection is by race and ethnicity,” she said. “When patients have that connection with their health care providers, they’re more likely to have a better outcome and more timely care.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
“We know these disparities exist, when there’s awareness, you can then affect change,” Blake said.
Blake said part of that change involves encouraging more young Black Americans to pursue medicine.
“There are different avenues for increasing the amount of minority physicians and particularly people of color, to say, ‘let’s create pipelines to help create more Black American healthcare providers in this country,’” she said.
For Blake, Black History Month is a time to celebrate the legacy and achievements of Black Americans past, present and future.
“Black history is American history, Black culture is American culture and Black stories are essential to the ongoing story of America,” she said. “I think we’re in an inspiring time, where we are acknowledging that progress needs to be made and I can see progress being made and makes me proud.”