Local Survivor Offering Spanish Breast Cancer Support Group During National Women's Health Week
Brooklyn, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/03/2018 --Sally Pierre, a 30 year breast cancer survivor, wants to change the landscape of breast cancer support for Latina women in Orlando.
After realizing her local hospital offered only one Spanish-language breast cancer support group, Pierre started her own in parternship with LatinaSHARE, the Spanish-language program of national cancer support nonprofit SHARE. Her next meeting, open to all local Spanish-speaking women affected by breast cancer, is May 15, during National Women's Health Week.
When she had been diagnosed with breast cancer 30 years ago in New York, Pierre felt extremely alone. "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," she says. Eventually she called the free LatinaSHARE breast cancer helpline through cancer support nonprofit SHARE. Soon, she was volunteering herself as a LatinaSHARE support group facilitator.
After completing treatment, 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.
"I hung a support group flyer up in the local senior center and in my apartment building. And the women just came."
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.
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, being denied sick leave from employers. Low 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."
Pierre says her group of breast cancer survivors continues to grow. Eventually, she hopes to work to promote even more Spanish-language and culturally sensitive services 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."
The group is held entirely in Spanish and meets at 350 E. Jackson St. 2-3:30pm, on May 15 and 29, June 12 and 26, and July 20 and 24. Register at 212-221-1626.
LatinaSHARE is the Spanish-language division of SHARE, offering a complete roster of breast and ovarian cancer support services entirely in Spanish. LatinaSHARE provides reliable health information, culturally sensitive support, and practical resources such as wigs and breast forms to over 28,000 women every year through its support groups, Spanish-language helpline, education initiatives, patient-navigators, and outreach to immigrant women. It has been recognized by many international corporations, the New York State governing body, and community trusts alike.
For Spanish-language information about LatinaSHARE, visit latina.sharecancersupport.org.
SHARE is a nationwide nonprofit that improves the lives of women affected by breast and ovarian cancers through experienced peer support, accessible education, and innovative outreach, always for free. It meets women wherever they are, especially in medically underserved communities, with the insight of women who have been there too, creating a nationwide network where women are empowered and feel less alone. Its free services include support groups, educational tools, expert-led webinars and presentations, a national helpline, online communities, and survivor-patient navigation.
For more information, visit sharecancersupport.org.