A D.C.-area organization dedicated to helping Latinas affected by breast cancer is hosting a number of events for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Nueva Vida will offer cancer screenings and information at the Westfield Wheaton mall in Montgomery County, Maryland, until 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Events later this month include support groups, meditation sessions and Zumba lessons.
Nueva Vida was founded in 1999 by breast cancer survivors and health professionals. Founders Lydia Carnota, Gloria Elliot, Carolina Hinestrosa and Elmer Huerta said they felt the need for a community-based organization that met the needs of Latinas.They aimed to raise awareness of the disease among Latinas and provide resources.
“The founders began to question what happens to those who are diagnosed with breast cancer and do not have health insurance, family support, speak English or have access to any other resources,” Executive Director Astrid Jimenez said.
More than 20 years later, the group continues to support, inform and empower Latinos whose lives have been affected by breast cancer.
“The Latino community suffers disproportionately when it comes to breast cancer,” Jimenez said. “To us every day is Breast Cancer Awareness Day.”
Photos: DC Organization Focuses on Breast Cancer Awareness in Latino Community
Latinas with breast cancer are less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage, when treatment is likely to be less intensive and more successful, according to the American Cancer Society.
Access to mammograms and low-dose X-rays are key in the battle against breast cancer in the Latino community, Jimenez said.
"When it comes to detecting breast cancer, time is your ally or your enemy. It is extremely important that you get to know your body,” she said.
Nueva Vida works to address specific barriers to care in the Latino community, including misconceptions, misinformation, lack of medical literacy and lack of knowledge of one's family medical history.
The American Cancer Society says women 40 to 44 should begin breast cancer screening if they wish to do so, while routine mammography should begin at 45.
Hispanic men and women are the least likely to have health insurance of any major racial or ethnic group, according to the American Cancer Society. Issues include financial, structural and personal barriers to health care, lack of transportation, cultural and linguistic factors, and bias by providers.
Nueva Vida provides outreach and education programs, access to care through patient navigation and mental health help. Their free and low-cost services range from educating women on breast cancer to helping them with end-of-life plans. They also offer individual and group support for breast cancer patients and their family members. Information on a monthly support group can be found here.
Nueva Vida has offices on U Street NW in D.C., Alexandria and Baltimore. Go here for more info.