Friday, February 5, 2010

Latinas Contra Cancer Fight to Help Low Income Latinas Get Medical Support

Two days ago a 31- year- old Latina with second stage breast cancer came to our office looking for support. Two months ago a 37- year- old Latina with third stage breast cancer came to our office looking for support. Six months ago, we lost a 36- year-old Latina to aggressive breast cancer which went to her brain.

All have children, all were scared, all cried, and Latinas Contra Cancer based in San Jose, CA has tried to be here for them. Just as we have tried to be here for this underserved Latina population by educating them about breast cancer and encouraging them to do self exams, clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Breast cancer is the number one cancer killer of Latinas, most of it due to late detection. Breast cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of African American and White women. Now we are between a rock and hard place. Telling women they could possibly have a deadly cancer in their breast and not having any place to send them.

We are very concerned about the Governor's proposal to eliminate the free breast screening program for low income and uninsured women called Every Women Counts (EWC). In just the past few months, the state has chipped away at this important, life saving program that has given poor women the same opportunity for survival that insured, and well off women are afforded with access to breast cancer screenings and early detection.

Already EWC has been frozen for women over 50 for the next 5 months, and it's cut off women between 40-49 years old. That disturbs me greatly, because in the our community there are large enough numbers of Latinas under the age of 50 being diagnosed with breast cancer, to warrant caution about cutting anybody off from this program. Last year 14,000 women called the EWC's hotline to see if they could qualify for free screenings; 43% were Latinas.

My agency, Latinas Contra Cancer has worked diligently the last 5 years to raise awareness in this vulnerable group, reaching out to hundreds of Spanish speaking women and moving many of them past their fears to action. One third of the women who come to our support group are under the age of 50.

Now all that work, and the early intervention and the lives saved are under assault with both this new regulation and the Governor's desire to cut this program all together.

I am a cancer survivor (Hodgkins Lymphoma) who was diagnosed, and got treatment early because I had access to insurance and good health care. Please give all low income women a chance to have a long and healthy life. Please bombard the Governor's office with wise Latina messages opposing the cuts.

Remember your state could be next.

Ysabel Duron
Latinas Contra Cancer
San Jose, CA
408-280-0811 or 408-280-0811


  1. Ysabel, wow, how right you are. This could happen in Texas, Indiana, Florida the state my in laws live at-Iowa. This could affect every state in the US. Some governors start following suit because citizens don't bother to raise concerns. Even though I am from Texas, these are issues that are right in front of our face. I might not be affected directly, but it doesn't mean the problem isn't brewing. EWC, Every Women Counts! Thank you for your insight and letting Wise Latinas know about the situation. Hasta Pronto, Diana

  2. years ago I was one of a panel of volunteer latinas that developed the "entre amigas" program here in Dallas with the American Cancer Society. It was based on a home-party concept with a loteria type game that taught Latinas basic breast health concepts. I wish there was more early education as well as more healthcare. My heart cries out for these women and their families.


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