The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR), the leading international nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those impacted by sarcoidosis and accelerating research towards a cure, is proud to announce its partnership with actress and sarcoidosis advocate, Jeryl Prescott.
Prescott is best known for her roles in AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (Jacqui), DC Universe’s “The Swamp Thing” (Madame Xanadu), Netflix’s “Resort to Love” (Naomi King), and most recently “All the Queen’s Men” (Judge Martha), currently streaming on BET Plus.
Prescott joins forces with FSR to promote the organization’s Ignore No More: African American Women & Sarcoidosis National Campaign, throughout Black History Month (2022’s theme is Black Health & Wellness) and American Heart Month this February and to reveal her own struggles with this complex rare disease. Prescott’s passion for raising awareness for sarcoidosis among African American women stems from her own difficult journey and her recent diagnosis of cardiac sarcoidosis, in addition to her previously diagnosed pulmonary and ocular sarcoidosis.
“I wasn’t always ready to speak out regarding my diagnosis, but I think it’s particularly important now to spread the word,” said Prescott. “I’m speaking out because I care about my community. Until I learned about the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, I was only able to find the most superficial references to sarcoidosis online. Many of these rare diseases run in the family and the more we know, the better we can prevent and treat these diseases and maybe avoid some of the more severe consequences.”
African American women experience the highest incidence of sarcoidosis in the U.S. as compared to any other group. Sarcoidosis (pronounced SAR-COY-DOE-SIS) is an inflammatory disease characterized by the formation of granulomas—tiny clumps of inflammatory cells—in one or more organs of the body. African American women are three times more likely to develop sarcoidosis when compared to Caucasians. They are also more likely to experience chronic and severe symptoms resulting in hospitalization rates 10-18 times higher than Caucasians, and more than double that of African American men. African American women have a staggeringly high mortality rate that is 12 times higher than that of Caucasians, and one and a half times higher than that of African American men.
“Sarcoidosis is difficult to diagnose and has very limited treatment options and no known cure,” said Dr. Yvette Cozier, Senior Epidemiologist and Investigator on the Black Women’s Health Study and the BWHS Sarcoidosis Study at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University School of Medicine, and member of the FSR Women of Color Clinical Advisory Committee and FSR Board of Directors. “It’s important to note that while approximately 175,000 people are living with sarcoidosis throughout the United States, African-American women bear the greatest burden when compared to all other groups impacted by sarcoidosis.”
In addition to Prescott, 22 health, advocacy, and media organizations have partnered with FSR to raise awareness and education of sarcoidosis in African American women, increase understanding of risks for African American women, and increase earlier diagnosis and better disease management among African American women. As part of the campaign, FSR has also created a Women of Color Patient Advisory Committee comprised of 15 African American women, both patients and care partners, from across the U.S. These women serve as the patient voice of the campaign, using their lived experiences and patient advocacy training.
“Although we are saddened to learn of Jeryl Prescott’s progressing sarcoidosis, we are grateful to her for speaking out publicly to help raise awareness about sarcoidosis. We are honored to be working with her on the Ignore No More campaign,” said Mary McGowan, CEO of FSR. “Her partnership will help amplify critical messaging about the disparities African American women face when it comes to sarcoidosis and drive vital attention to this significant health issue.”