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Monday, March 16, 2009

Walk With Me - Caminata Contra el Cancer

Walk With Me - Caminata Contra el Cancer
by Jan Goode

Each year, millions of women look at their calendars and read these words, “Annual Check Up.” Though not our favorite way to spend time, we do it because we know that it may literally save our lives. The dreaded mammogram and the slightly uncomfortable PAP tests are two of the most important tests a woman should have done every year.

In San Felipe, hundreds of local women of all ages are just beginning to understand the importance of these examinations thanks to the efforts of Nurse Edith Fuentes Casillas of the Caminata Contra el Cancer Organization. In February 2008, the Caminata hired Edith, a full-time cancer care nurse who currently works out of an office provided by the San Felipe Centro de Salud. Her salary and necessary medical supplies are supported solely by contributions to the Caminata. A van provided by the Caminata has been a tremendous asset, allowing Edith to go into the local neighborhoods, perform these tests and hopefully lessen some of the “fear of the unknown.”

In this first year, she has seen over 300 women who probably would never have gone for either a Pap test or breast examination—this number continues to grow. Of 60 women who had breast examinations in November 2008, 10 percent had a lump in one breast. Edith has found several cases of pre-cancerous lesions and cervical cancer within the 645 Pap tests she has done to date. She has referred over 100 patients for follow-up services, most of which required medical consultations, mammogram and ultrasound examinations. Many of these costs were absorbed by the Caminata.

Local OB/GYN, Dr. Annel Becerra Prado agrees that this project has made a significant impact in introducing the concept of preventative health care, particularly pre-cancer screening tests. “More importantly, it is helping to educate about women’s health issues like breast and cervical cancer.”

Edith cannot say enough about the importance of this project continuing, “there is a lot more to be done in providing medical care, but just as important, by educating. The Caminata is making it happen. I hope everyone will support this organization because there are so many more that need our help.”

So, walk with me and hundreds of supporters in the Annual Caminata Contra el Cancer, March 21, 2009. With the support and commitment of people who care, we can continue to grow and provide this much needed community service.

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