Local Woman Starts Breast Cancer Outreach for Vulnerable Population
New York, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/04/2019 --After realizing her local hospital only offered a single breast cancer support group for Spanish-speakers, local breast cancer survivor Pierre started her own support group in her apartment building, in connection with LatinaSHARE, the Spanish-language division of national cancer nonprofit SHARE. Her next meeting, open to all Spanish-speaking women affected by breast cancer, is June 25. Pierre is also making a targeted effort to perform outreach into Orlando's Spanish-speaking communities.
"I had no family history of breast cancer that I knew of. Women didn't do self-exams at that time. People didn't talk about those things," Pierre says of when she was diagnosed. Eventually she called LatinaSHARE's free Spanish-language breast cancer helpline. Soon, she was volunteering herself as a LatinaSHARE support group facilitator.
After completing treatment in New York, Pierre moved to Orlando. But she missed the connection and fulfillment that came from working with breast cancer patients and survivors. When she discovered the lack of Spanish-language services available to Orlando's Latina population, she took it upon herself to begin filling that need through a support group and outreach.
"I hung a support group flyer up in the local senior center and in my apartment building. And the women just came."
Orlando has a significant Latino population but lacks meaningful access to Spanish-language cancer support services. Research shows that Hispanic women face more barriers to breast cancer care than other ethnicities, including cultural and language issues, lack of childcare or dependable transportation and, being denied sick leave from employers. Lower income or poor health insurance also leads the community to receive fewer mammograms than other women, which means Latina women are often diagnosed at advanced stages that are harder to treat.
"So many obstacles get in the way of Latinas taking care of their breast health, from language barriers to fear," said Jennie Santiago, co-director of LatinaSHARE. "We are so excited to have a presence in Orlando where there are fewer Spanish-language services. This will allow us to continue to empower these women to overcome these obstacles."
Many cancer support groups are led by an LCSW. Pierre's group uses LatinaSHARE's peer model, which trains cancer survivors to lead support groups. "Having a survivor facilitate instead of a social worker helps to put a face on survivorship for women. It helps them realize they can be okay too," says Pierre.
Pierre is now conducting outreach among clinics, hospitals, and community hubs for Orlando's Spanish-speakers to distribute culturally relevant information about breast and ovarian cancer, and is recruiting other women to do the same. Eventually, she'd like to see even more Spanish language services become available in Orlando. "There are so many programs that helped me when I was a patient, like yoga and meditation. I want to be a part of helping to offer more services in Spanish that continue to improve women's health."
Pierre's group is held entirely in Spanish and meets at 350 E. Jackson St. 2-3:30pm, on June 25, July 16, and July 30. Register here or call 212.221.1626.