Monday, October 27, 2014

Comentarios From Maria: Latinas -Spotting the signs early, is only half the battle to breast cancer survival

During the month of October, organizations nationwide have been doing their part to raise greater awareness for the most common cause of death from cancer in Hispanic women – breast cancer. And though Latinas have lower overall breast cancer rates than white women, the US Department of Health and Human Services notes Hispanic women are more likely than whites to be diagnosed at a later stage, when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat. As a working mother of two very beautiful mini reflections of me, I make time for my health first because I understand this disease can take hold of anyone, including me.

The American Cancer Society estimated 2,400 breast cancer deaths in 2012 – this would be the equivalent of approximately 7 Latinas per day, or about 1 death every 4 hours. As such, it is absolutely critical for Hispanic women to carry out regular breast cancer screenings to increase early detection and talk to your doctors about any unusual changes you may notice right away. We must not be frightened, feel embarrassed, or remain silent – prevention is crucial.

Studies show that Hispanic women cancer patients’ experiences are embedded in culturally based values of family and faith that are interrelated and culturally bound. For many of our sisters, friends, and family members who may be battling valiantly through this disease, this unfamiliar loss of independence can feel very isolating. And while actively helping our loved ones manage their side effects is part of the overall treatment process, equally important is building a loving, compassionate, and supportive environment that can aid in generating meaningful breakthroughs during such a difficult time.

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