An organization in the DC area dedicated to helping Latinas affected by breast cancer is hosting a number of events for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Nueva Vida will offer cancer testing and information at Westfield Wheaton Mall in Montgomery County, Md., Until 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Events later this month include support groups, meditation sessions, and Zumba classes.
Nueva Vida was founded in 1999 by breast cancer survivors and healthcare professionals. Founders Lydia Carnota, Gloria Elliot, Carolina Hinestrosa and Elmer Huerta said they felt the need for a community organization that meets the needs of Latinas. They were aimed at educating Latinas about the disease and providing resources.
“The founders started to wonder what happens to those who are diagnosed with breast cancer and do not have health insurance, family support, speak English or have no access to any other resources,” said the executive director Astrid Jimenez.
Over 20 years later, the group continues to support, educate and empower Latinos whose lives have been affected by breast cancer.
“The Latin American community suffers disproportionately when it comes to breast cancer,” Jimenez said. “For us, every day is Breast Cancer Awareness Day. “
Photos: DC organization focuses on breast cancer awareness in the Latino community
Latinas with breast cancer are less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage, when treatment is likely to be less intensive and more effective, according to the American Cancer Society.
Access to mammograms and low-dose x-rays is essential in the fight against breast cancer in the Latin American community, Jimenez said.
“When it comes to detecting breast cancer, time is your ally or your enemy. It is extremely important that you get to know your body, ”she said.
Nueva Vida works to overcome specific barriers to care in the Latin American community, including misconceptions, misinformation, lack of medical knowledge, and lack of knowledge of family medical history.
The American Cancer Society says women 40 to 44 should start breast cancer screening if they want, while routine mammograms should start at 45.
Hispanic men and women are the least likely to have health insurance of any major racial or ethnic group, according to the American Cancer Society. Problems include financial, structural and personal barriers to health care, lack of transportation, cultural and linguistic factors, and provider biases.
Nueva Vida offers awareness and education programs, access to care through patient navigation and mental health support. Their free, low-cost services range from educating women about breast cancer to assisting with end-of-life plans. They also provide individual and group support to breast cancer patients and their families. Information on a monthly support group can be found here.
Nueva Vida has offices on U Street NW in DC, Alexandria and Baltimore. Go here for more information.