Creando Nuestra Salud...Creating Our Health
They got a big check for a special purpose. The Rural Women's Health Project of Gainesville was one of 12 organizations in the state to receive money from the American Cancer Society. The money will encourage early breast cancer detection in Hispanic women.
The Florida Division of the American Cancer Society presented a $25 thousand dollar check to the Rural Women's Health Project or RWHP. The money will help address cancer disparities in the Hispanic community through peer education.
RWHP Director of Education Robin Lewy said, "We start by being influenced by our friends." She says one on one communication, in a person's first language, is key to eliminating health disparities among women of different races.
Lewy said, "With this program, "Creando Nuestra Salud," the first line of defense goes right into the community through friends, through neighbors, through family members."
Statistically, more Hispanic women have late breast cancer detection because of a lack of access to health services and education. This program, called the "Creating Our Health" project hopes to change that through volunteer health promoters, who will educate women in the community. Lewy said, "In five counties, we have a thousand women that it's like the light is going to go on. It's that opportunity to say, wow, I have skills, I am capable of taking this early step."
One of those volunteers is Carolina Almaca, a Mexican breast cancer survivor from Lake County, who is currently battling liver cancer. Almaca said, "God has me here for a reason. To help other people, help my people."
Almaca and other volunteers use an educational kit to teach the women they meet with. Lewy said, "We use the breast model. All of the women learn how to palpate the model in order to learn how to locate the tumors that are inside of the model."
The kit also includes a photo novella, local resource guide and a necklace. Lewy said, "We use the breast cancer necklace as a way to visually help women to understand what a tumor can be. That it can be something as small as this bead here, or as large as what we call la ignorancia, ignorance. And we meant that a woman who doesn't know how to care for herself, unfortunately she's gonna find a tumor late."
Over a three month period, Lewy, Almaca and the other women involved with this project will work with community partners in each county to reach out to one thousand women.
Later following up to make sure each woman got the medical screenings and care necessary.
Lewy said, "When we find those three to five women that need special attention and they get it early...that's a satisfaction that we all share together."
For more information about this program, visit www.rwhp.org or call 352-372-1095.
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