Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death for Hispanic women. Yet it doesn’t seem to face most Hispanic women. Many think “it will not happen to ME.” But it does.
I have many dear friends who are cancer survivors and I believe that they’re all alive today because they discovered the cancer through a mammography;before it was too late. That’s not the case for most Hispanic women.
Studies have shown that 3 out of every 4 Latinas discover they have breast cancer themselves,wether by accidently finding a lump or by finding the lump through a self examination. Sadly, by the time a woman can “feel” a tumor it means that it has grown, that it is in a more advanced stage. That’s why mammograms are so vital.
Hispanic women also have such a high mortality rate because,according to research,after finding a lump, many wait AT LEAST a month before seekinghelp. And when you have breast cancer,every day counts. Tumors don’t ask for your permission to keep growing. Cancer doesn’t need you ok to spread.
Why do Latina women wait so long putting their lives at risk? Mostly because of lack of health insurance but I also believe is because of fear. Fear of what that mammogram will say. Fear that the lump may be a malignous tumor. Thay have the “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” mentality. But when it comes to breast cancer nothing can be further from the truth.
As part of the research I made for a Today show story about Hispanic women and breast cancer,I visited a Miami clinic with the most advanced technology available. I was shown the xrays of women that had discovered breast cancer through a regular yearly mammogram and the xrays of women that had gotten a mammogram only after discovering a lump. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The cancer was noticeably larger in the second group. Machines detect tumors way before we do.
My grandmother died at an old age of breast cancer. Back then there wasn’t as much awareness as there is today about the importance of going to the doctor for a yearly exam.
Today I’m lucky to have never lost a friend to breast cancer. My friends and I make it a priority to go get a mammogram once a year. That’s how the ones that had cancer were able to catch it time. They survive cancer because were not afraid to discover it. When it comes to breast cancer information is power.
They are my heroes.