ELITE 2022 Philanthropic Hero Jamil Rivers of The Chrysalis Initiative

Jamil Rivers

Founder & CEO

The Chrysalis Initiative

Advocating for Equitable Breast Cancer Care

The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program has reported that approximately 12.9% of women will get diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. In the U.S., Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer, despite its lower incidence rate compared to white women.

Jamil Rivers founded The Chrysalis Initiative (TCI) in 2019 after being diagnosed with de novo metastatic breast cancer (MBC) the previous year. De novo MBC is a relatively rare type of breast cancer and is generally considered incurable. When the cancer spreads to other areas of the body, symptoms can include severe progressive pain, vision problems, seizures, inability to draw a full breath, and many more. Yet even facing such symptoms, coupled with those that result from chemotherapy, Jamil continued to work full-time and care for her family, including her three young sons and her husband, who also had faced multiple forms of cancer.

But Jamil didn’t just care for herself and her family. Through her own experiences, she realized the disparities Black women face when seeking care. She was determined to create a program to help women of color get the comprehensive care they deserve and provide support for healthcare workers and systems to address healthcare disparities.

Through its one-on-one coaching program, TCI informs and empowers women of color throughout their treatment, helping them feel confident and in charge by managing the worries and challenges specific to their experiences. TCI is the only national healthcare group focused exclusively on correcting the disparities faced by Black women in their care for breast cancer.

In 2021, Jamil developed the new BC Navi (short for Breast Cancer Navigation) website, patient portal, and app to provide breast cancer patients with resources to support them in understanding and advocating for equitable care, including TCI’s coaching, tools to recognize and address racism, and a patient-created database of provider reviews.

“Black women will no longer have to be in the dark about their cancer care treatment. They no longer have to wonder about how they can get equitable care,” Jamil says. “We got you. No more waiting on a biased system.”


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