Collaborations between organizations are a great way to leverage resources for breast cancer screening and education. Our breast cancer screening program ¡Celebremos la vida! (Let’s Celebrate Life) provides free mammography screenings to underserved Latinas in the D.C. metro area and outside Chicago, Illinois. Our clinic partners are reaching more women with education and outreach activities every day and bringing new patients into their clinics to receive these essential cancer screening services.
A significant community relationship has grown between the Spanish Catholic Center ¡Celebremos la Vida! clinic and Lighthouse Ministries International. Lady Cora-Dian Cameron (or as I call her, Sister Cameron) is first lady and wife of the pastor of Lighthouse Ministries International and was introduced to our Celebremos program through one of her church parishioners. Olga Pulgar-Vidal, our clinic coordinator at the Spanish Catholic Center, helps Sister Cameron’s friends and parishioners get screened for breast cancer. Like all of our coordinators, Olga helps patients navigate the health care system because she is dedicated to improving health outcomes and providing free or reduced services to those in need.
Many of Sister Cameron’s parishioners didn’t know what resources were available to them before Olga began helping them and were afraid to navigate the health system on their own. The relationship Sister Cameron now has with the caring Celebremos staff has renewed her confidence in access to care in the D.C. area.
Sister Cameron’s desire to start a health outreach ministry began a long time ago but it wasn’t until a close relative of hers was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that she was driven to seek out services in the community. She pulled together a group of health professionals in her church and created the Lighthouse Ministries Health Outreach Ministry which includes the Breast Cancer Awareness and Support Group. The Cancer Awareness and Support Group helps find free or low-cost resources for screening and treatment, provides transportation to doctor’s appointments and volunteers to stay at the appointments with those undergoing cancer treatment. The day before I met with Sister Cameron, she had been to chemotherapy with one of her parishioners. Although this takes up a lot of her time, she feels blessed to be able to help. “It is essential to promote an atmosphere to get well and going with them to treatment helps give them strength,” said Sister Cameron. The Cancer Awareness and Support Group also provides food, wigs, pedicures and manicures. These services are available to any member of the community!
In October the group organized a breast cancer awareness session for the congregation and invited Olga to be the main speaker and lead a dynamic discussion about the importance of breast cancer screening. She dispelled common myths like “men can’t get breast cancer” and “deodorant and bras cause cancer,” helping men better support the women in their lives and encouraging everyone to make healthy changes like improving eating habits and increasing physical activity.
We are proud to help facilitate health education at the community level through programs like ¡Celebremos la Vida! For more information on Prevent Cancer’s Celebremos program, visit our webpage. For more information on the Cancer Awareness and Support Group, visit Sister Cameron’s Facebook page or you may just find her accompanying one of her parishioners to their first mammogram at the Spanish Catholic Center.
The Foundation would like to express its appreciation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, Amgen and Novartis Oncology for their generous support of the ¡Celebremos la vida! program.