Infographic: The Health of Mothers and Children



Racial and Health Disparities in Breast Cancer

Air Date: Thursday, October 29, 2016

Presentation Slides: Racial and Health Disparities in Breast Cancer

Dr. Lisa Newman, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Breast Care Center at the University of Michigan discusses disparities in breast cancer and suggest ways PPEs can address them.

Continue reading Racial and Health Disparities in Breast Cancer

What is Preconception Peer Educators

The Preconception Peer Educator (PPE) Program was developed to raise awareness among college students about infant mortality and its causes. The PPE Program applies a peer education curriculum to equip college students with targeted health messages that they can spread throughout their campuses and communities.

Who’s a Preconception Peer Educator?

Official PPE(s) are students who have taken the PPE training and participated as peer health educators for at least one full school year.

Learn more about PPE training and certification

PPE(s) work instep with the mission of the Office of Minority Health to eliminate health disparities by generating infant mortality awareness and prevention using preconception and inter-conception health messages. Developing activities to reach the college-age population with targeted health messages, materials, activities and exercises emphasizing preconception health and healthcare. And finally training college students as peer educators and healthy behavior advocates.

Why infant mortality?

The death of a baby before his or her first birthday is called infant mortality. The infant mortality rate is an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. This rate is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants. There are obvious differences in infant mortality by age, race, and ethnicity; for instance, the mortality rate for black infants is more than twice that of white infants.

Because over fifty percent of all pregnancies are unplanned, it is imperative to provide all men and women, especially sexually active men and women, with information to make timely, informed decisions about their current health behaviors. Trained PPEs champion these health messages in an effort to reduce infant mortality rates among all people, with emphasis on at-risk populations.

Know the Facts First: STI Prevention Campaign

The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) in collaboration with the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and the National Coalition of STD Directors launched the Know the Facts First (KTFF) campaign to address the unacceptably high levels of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among teens.

KTFF is a national public health awareness campaign designed to provide teen girls, ages 13-19, with accurate information about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and STD prevention so that they can make informed decisions about sexual activity.

About 1 in 4 teens has an STI according to a 2009 study published in Pediactrics

KTFF was developed in response to the 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) that evidence-based social marketing and education campaigns should be used to reduce the incidence of HIV; and age-appropriate HIV and STI prevention education for all Americans be promoted.

According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported cases of all three nationally notifiable STIs – chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis – have increased for the first time since 2006. Despite being a relatively small portion of the sexually active population, people between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea and almost two-thirds of all reported cases.

know the facts screenshot

The campaign is featured on

The KTFF page features include: a testing center locator tool, marketing materials and a 30 second campaign video. Peer educators will find the information and materials useful as they attend events addressing the issue of teen STIs prevention

NIH Funding Opportunity

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, launched an opportunity on, titled, “Novel, Innovative Tools to Increase Public Awareness and Knowledge of Sickle Cell Disease Undergraduate Challenge.” The Challenge seeks to raise awareness about sickle cell disease (SCD) and its associated complications and to improve the use of effective treatments in real world settings.

Complete instructions; rules, terms and conditions; registration and submission details; and how submissions will be evaluated may be found here.

Rules for Participating in the Challenge

This Challenge is open to any “Student Team”, defined as a group of at least 3 and not more than 5 individuals each of whom is at least 18 years of age and currently enrolled as a full-time student pursuing an undergraduate or associates degree. The Student Team Captain must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
The Student Team must also be trans-disciplinary, that is, composed of undergraduate students from diverse disciplines such as fine arts, performing arts, humanities, psychology, science, engineering, graphic design, IT (hardware, software), mathematics, statistics, environmental science, computational modeling, and others.

The goals of the Challenge are to: 1) generate novel, innovative tools that may be used to increase public awareness and knowledge of SCD and associated complications that could potentially improve patient care; 2) advance the field of implementation science through research training, mentoring, and highlighting the contributions of a new generation of undergraduate researchers using a systems science approach to address multi-faceted problems; and 3) encourage “team science” by providing undergraduate students valuable experiences to pursue science collectively as they engage in complex problem solving to improve health outcomes for SCD.


Challenge announced: Oct. 21, 2015

Submissions accepted: Nov. 30, 2015 to March 7, 2016 11:59 p.m. PDT

Judging: March 14, 2016 to March 25, 2016

Winners notified by email: April 5, 2016

Winners announced: April 19, 2016

Amount of the Prize

  • 1st Prize – $7,000, 2nd Prize – $5,000, 3rd Prize – $3,000
  • Up to an additional $2,000 to reimburse the Student Team for eligible expenses to register for and travel to the annual NHLBI/National Sickle Cell Disease meeting to present and demonstrate its winning entry.

Sickle cell disease [SCD] is the most common genetic disorder in the United States. There is a lack of awareness about SCD and associated complications. Where there is some awareness, there are also misunderstandings about the disease that need to be addressed such as the following: SCD is contagious; if one has the disease they will die young; if the parents are not sick from SCD, the children could never have SCD; and SCD only affects African Americans. Stigma also remains associated with SCD. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, funds both research to improve the health of people with SCD and the training and career development of scientists and physicians dedicated to advancing the care of the afflicted. Research saves lives as demonstrated by the increased life expectancy and the decreased disease burden of those suffering with SCD who receive optimal therapy. To help address this problem, the NHLBI has launched this Challenge.

Online Resources 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health: What is Sickle Cell Anemia:

Sickle Cell Disease Association of America Inc.: (link is external)

National Human Genome Research Institute/National Institutes of Health:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health:

Sickle Cell Disease.  Tips for Healthy Living:


Scholarship Announcement

The Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is offering a scholarship for institutions offering public health and other health practice programs.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS)
Application Deadline: January 25, 2016

Eligible applicants are public or non-profit private accredited schools of medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, podiatric medicine, optometry, veterinary medicine, public health, chiropractic, allied health, a school offering a graduate program in behavioral and mental health practice, or an entity providing programs for the training of physician assistants.

Description: This program promotes diversity among the health professions and nursing workforce by providing awards to eligible health professions and nursing schools for use in awarding scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have a demonstrated financial need and are enrolled full-time in health professions and nursing programs.   Participating schools are responsible for selecting scholarship recipients, making reasonable determinations of need, and providing scholarships that do not exceed the allowable costs (i.e., tuition, reasonable educational expenses and reasonable living expenses with a cap for the total scholarship award of $30,000).
Contact: Contact Denise Sorrell at (301)443-2909 or email 

PEP Squad Activities (Fall 2015)

This fall semester, the East Carolina University PPEs–Preconception Educating Pirates completed over 185 volunteer hours within the community! They also had a huge impact on campus while participating in a number of ECU events. Led by Keyuna Patterson, president and Jenelle Felton, vice president, the PEP Squad provided information on ovarian and cervical cancer; passed out condoms and multivitamins; and used social media to promote healthy behaviors. Special thanks to Dr. Monica Webb, faculty advisor, for sharing the success of the purple and gold: Go Pirates!

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Please scroll down for a detailed look at some of the activities.


During this ECU Campus Wellness event, different organizations and groups had tables set up in the Student Recreational Center. Each table discussed various types of cancer. At PEP Squad’s table, we had a tri-fold that included information about PCOS, ovarian cancer, and cervical cancer. We also gave out teal ribbons to students and discussed what our organization does. Pep Squad had 15 members volunteer their time at this event.

Take the Pledge

Pledge Purple is an initiative that focuses on education and advocacy of issues regarding sexual violence, harassment, and bullying. This is a week-long initiative. Pep Squad participated in Take the Pledge, which was held on The Brickyard. At this event, we discussed our organization and aspects of preconception health. We also gave out condoms and Bedsider products (t-shirts for Thanks Birth Control Day and cozies). In order to receive a t-shirt, students had to follow Pep Squad’s social media accounts and answer a preconception health question. We had 22 members volunteer at Take the Pledge.

Wrap It Up for the Holidays

Wrap It Up for the Holidays was a Pep Squad table event held outside of Dowdy Student Store. At this event, Pep Squad played a Bedsider trivia game called “Lay it On Me” and gave out condoms, multi-vitamins, and candy canes. “Lay it On Me” had trivia questions that focused on various aspects of sexual health. Since the holidays are a prime time for college students to become pregnant, we thought giving students a reminder to practice safe sex before the holiday season started was important. Pep Squad had 12 members volunteer for this event.

Shout out to the other PEP Squad officers: Treasurer: D’Angela Wrisborne, Secretary: Ankita Mishra and Historian Otiyana Dickerson.

Training Grant(s) Announcement

The Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is offering a number of grant opportunities.

Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) Program
Application deadline: February 15, 2016

Eligible applicants are education programs that provide registered nurses with nurse practitioner and nurse-midwife education.  Such programs may include schools of nursing, nursing centers, academic health centers, State or local governments, and other public or private nonprofit entities authorized by the Secretary to confer degrees to registered nurses for nurse practitioner nurse-midwife education.
Description: The purpose of the AENT program is to increase the number of primary care Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) trained in rural and/or underserved communities to better prepare graduates to practice in these communities.  The AENT grant provides traineeships to nurses who are pursuing advanced degrees as primary care nurse practitioners (NP) or nurse-midwives.
Contact: Michael McCalla at (301)443-0856 or email

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND)
Application deadline: February 5, 2016

Description: The purpose of this graduate-level training program is to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents who have, or are at risk for developing, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other neurodevelopmental and other related disabilities (DD), by expanding interdisciplinary training opportunities for graduate-level trainees from a wide variety of professional disciplines.
Contact: Robyn Schulhof at (301)443-0258 or email

Infant Mortality

The death of a baby before his or her first birthday is called infant mortality. The infant mortality rate is an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. This rate is often used as an indicator to measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants. There are obvious differences in infant mortality by age, race, and ethnicity; for instance, the mortality rate for non-Hispanic black infants is more than twice that of non-Hispanic white infants.

infant mortality rate by state


Health of babies depends on the health of the population—not only mothers but fathers, families, and society. US infant mortality rate (6.7 per 1,000 births) 28th among industrialized countries.


Click the widget below to compare infant mortality rates worldwide

Preconception health care is an important strategy to reducing the infant mortality rate. “Good preconception health and health care means living a safe, healthy lifestyle and managing any current health conditions before getting pregnant.” All men and women can benefit from preconception care, whether or not they plan on having a child because preconception care is about getting and staying healthy.

Preconception care information for women can be found here

Preconception care information for men can be found here


My Walk With Breast Cancer

My name is Deborah Bowen. I am 56 years old and have survived Breast Cancer twice–in 1994 and 2010. I am also a survivor of Salivary Gland Cancer, which was detected in 1995. I want to share my experience in hopes that it will help others believe that a Cancer diagnosis is not an ending but can rather be a beginning. I believe that my life is richer because of what I have learned and endured because of Cancer. I can’t tell you that I would choose it all over again, but this is the life chosen for me and I have tried to do the best that I can with it and to be faithful to what I have been called.

Cancer is disruptive. It doesn’t wait for you to figure things out. It took me two weeks to actually face the fact that I had Breast Cancer and allow myself to cry.

For the past three weeks I have been glued to the television at 10:00 pm every Tuesday night. A show that I have never watched before has so grabbed my attention and my heart that I find myself thinking about it all week and actually wishing that it would come on an extra night. The reason for this obsession is that one of the main characters has just found out that she has Breast Cancer. While watching another television show, I saw an ad for this one. When I heard that there was going to be “surprising news” and saw the expression on the woman’s face, I knew that she had Breast Cancer. The writers seemed to be writing about my life. I say this because so many situations in this family’s life remind me of my family’s life when we first dealt with Cancer. I cry every week. Maybe that’s why I watch the show: to cry the tears and feel the emotions that I did not allow during my first bout with Breast Cancer. This woman and her husband are trying so hard to stay positive and take care of everyone else’s feelings that they aren’t being real about what is real. Initially, she takes a few seconds to cry here or there, pulls it together, puts on a brave face and hides her fear. She doesn’t want to alarm or bother anyone with the news until she knows more. But Cancer is disruptive. It doesn’t wait for you to figure things out. It took me two weeks to actually face the fact that I had Breast Cancer and allow myself to cry. I finally told my family and friends, but kept a very positive but stoic attitude that pushed people away. I didn’t know how to feel. But everyone knew something was wrong with me.

My breast health issues actually began when I was 14. I noticed a hard area in my right breast but said nothing to my parents or anyone else. I grew up in a very rural area. Information about what could be going on in my body was almost non-existent. I kept checking the knot and felt it growing for months until even I could not ignore the fact that something was really wrong. By now I was 15, with a mass almost the size of my entire breast (I was very thin and under-developed). I told my mom, who felt it and then told my dad. They got me in to see a doctor and before I knew it, I was in the hospital. I knew very little about what was going on. Cancer never crossed my mind. Why would it? That was for older people. For an adolescent it was traumatic, frightening and painful. I later found out that the doctor removed a very large non-cancerous tumor that was about “the size of a biscuit.” I was left with a big, ugly scar.

When I was 17, the procedure had to be repeated on my left breast to remove several small tumors. Before I knew what self breast examinations were, I started to regularly check my breast for lumps, hard places or anything that felt different from that point on.

To this day I feel very strongly that it is never too early to start self breast exams. The more familiar you are with your body, the easier it will be to detect when something changes.

When I was in my early 30s, my doctor felt that because of my history I needed to start having mammograms. The first report showed “suspicious micro calcifications in the left breast.” A biopsy was required. As a matter of fact, every time that I had a mammogram, something showed up, but always in the left breast. In the spring of 1994, shortly after having my yearly check-up, I felt a large mass in my right breast that appeared out of nowhere. I called my doctor right away and told her about it. She was not initially all that concerned because of all of the tests that I had just had. She suggested that I watch it for a couple of weeks and let her know what happened–maybe it was connected to my period. She never blew me off and always listened to my concerns so I waited and watched for a couple of weeks. The mass did not go away so I called her back. Sensing my urgency, she asked me to come in as soon as I could get off the phone. She performed a fine needle biopsy (no fun!). I waited uneasily over a few days for the results. The pathology came back negative for Cancer.
I still did not have a good feeling and asked to have the mass removed. While waiting on my appointment with the surgeon, she scheduled me for another mammogram and an ultrasound. Even though the mass was large and palpable, it was invisible by mammogram. When I was given an ultrasound, however, the mass was as clear as a bell and considered ‘curious.’ Because of the biopsy showing negative results, my surgeon was fairly sure that we were still dealing with a benign mass and suggested that I wait six months. If it grew, he would be happy to take it out. Somehow I knew that I didn’t have six months to waste and pushed for an excision. My surgeon and primary care physician were both shocked when the pathology revealed Stage II Tubular Carcinoma with minimally invasive Ductal Carcinoma. A stage 2 diagnosis of Cancer was given because my tumor was larger than 3 centimeters and had begun to spread to surrounding tissue. Because of this, lymph nodes were also biopsied which were found to be negative for Cancer.

I battled depression for several years, took nearly every drug and combination of drugs in the books. I was fighting to take care of my family, my work; to love people…have a life.

Because I was diagnosed with a relatively rare form of Cancer for my age (37), the size of the tumor and the fact that I was African American, it was strongly suggested that I have both chemotherapy and radiation to give me the greatest chance of not having a recurrence. I had three courses of chemo followed by 7 weeks of radiation followed by 3 more courses of chemo. This would be followed by five years of a drug called Tamoxifen. (My tumor fed on estrogen; Tamoxifen blocks the effects of estrogen on tumors.) This treatment took about five months and was very hard on my body, my life and my family. My kids were young and didn’t understand a lot of what was going on. It was hard for me when they wondered why Mommy was in bed so much. We explained as much as we could to our oldest daughter, who at the time was 9. She was incredibly brave. But I was surrounded by love and support. My husband really took great care of me. My friends were with me for every chemo & radiation appointment. We made a family affair of it all.

My dad lost his battle with Cancer in February of 1995. It was a devastating event. We had spent very little time together the year before because we were both fighting for our lives. I was also dealing with the effects of Tamoxifen. About two months after starting to take it, I became incredibly depressed. I also became extremely anemic because the drug caused my periods to become very heavy and almost constant. I was taken off of Tamoxifen and had a total hysterectomy in May. I woke up from anesthesia in pain and a hot flash. Unfortunately, the depression did not change. I was later diagnosed as clinically depressed and began taking antidepressants. In December of 1995, after several mysterious illnesses and a ton of tests that yielded no real results, my surgeon biopsied what we all thought was a calcified (hardened) lymph node in my neck, just below my right jaw bone. I was given a diagnosis of Salivary Gland Cancer. I was stunned. The tumor was treated with surgical removal only, but I was thrown for a loop. I was not prepared for more Cancer; especially not so soon.

I battled depression for several years, took nearly every drug and combination of drugs in the books. I was fighting to take care of my family, my work; to love people…have a life. I finally had to stop working and hardly left home at all. I spent a week in a mental hospital before finding a doctor at the Mayo Clinic who finally helped me have a life without so much depression and so many medications. Depression is still there, but I manage it; it does not control me. I live a very active, happy life, work part-time and feel very blessed to have the life that I do.

The effects of Cancer are more than having surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Cancer messes with your security. You can’t predict when or if it will show up again. It can affect your faith–for the good or the bad. Having Cancer made me dig down deep and figure out what is important in this life. I feel that I am so much better, so much stronger because of this Journey.

Other ways that it has affected me is that I have not slept through the night since May 15, 1995 (chronic insomnia). I have not gone a single day without hot flashes since May, 1995. I have had so many biopsies and other same day surgeries that I can’t count them. My immune system is shot. I have had mono and mono-like illnesses several times, shingles, and many more ‘mystery’ illnesses that doctors can’t figure out.

Deborah Bennett-Bowen

I remained Cancer free for 14 years.

In 2009, while doing a breast exam, I felt a difference along the scar on my right breast. I went to see a surgeon, who after seeing my history performed a biopsy. The results were negative. I did not have peace of mind and was sure that I felt a mass. I went back to see the surgeon a couple of months later and voiced my concerns. He examined me, but felt that what I was feeling was scar tissue. I did not agree. I asked him if in light of my history if I had the option to have my breast removed. He took note of my concern, my history, knew that I was not a rash person, and decided to listen to me. In early 2010 I had a bi-lateral mastectomy (the removal of both breasts). Two weeks after the surgery, he called to say that they found Cancer in both breasts. Words can’t express how thankful I was!

You will notice that I always capitalize the first letter of any type of Cancer. This is purposed. I see Cancer as a powerful foe that I have had to battle three times. Because of God’s Mercy, I have been victorious. I have learned a lot about managing my health care, speaking up when I think that doctors need to do more or look somewhere else. I have learned when it is best to wait. Over the years, because of Cancer, I have attended the funerals of several friends who prayed with and for me, held my hand during chemo or made a meal for my family when I was too weak to cook or just sat with me and made me laugh. I will always fight Cancer any way that I can. I intend to remain a powerful foe of It. My mindset is that if Cancer were writing about me, it would capitalize my name.

I believe that every woman must be her own advocate.

We must speak up when our spirits tell us that something is wrong…even when science says the opposite.

We must look at all of our history as being important parts of our medical charts.

Self exams are an important part of early detection. No machine can know your body the way that you can. Start when you are young!!

Do not let fear of knowing the truth stop you from knowing the truth that could save your life!

I don’t know if my Journey with Cancer is over. I hope and pray that it is. For now, I am Surviving. I am Victorious. I am At Peace. I am Blessed.