Cheryl Doucette, a nine year breast cancer survivor and Outreach and Education Program Manager of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC), says a live interview on Milford’s Spanish-speaking radio station LA Exitosa, led to a potentially life-saving event in a Lincoln neighborhood. During that interview, Carolina Johnson, Bilingual Navigator for DBCC, spoke about the mobile mammography van that visits neighborhoods to do screening mammograms for women age 40 and older.
Guadalupe Sandoval, a resident of Cedar Village Trailer Park in Lincoln where there is a large number of Hispanic families, called into the show asking if the van could come to her neighborhood. Carolina immediately began making arrangements for the van to visit the neighborhood, and on Friday, August 30, women in the small Lincoln community were provided with education and screenings that could save their lives.
According to the national statistics, white women have the highest incidence of breast cancer, though African American women under the age of 45 have a higher incidence of the disease. Although Hispanic and Latino women have a lower incidence rate of the disease, they have a higher mortality rate as many of their tumors are diagnosed at a later stage when the disease is difficult to cure. In fact, the foundation says that Hispanic/Latino women have an 84 percent survival rate after five years, compared to 90 percent for white women and 77 percent for African American women. Ms. Doucette explains that some of the reason for that is cultural.
“We have experienced some resistance in regard to breast self exam and mammography in our travels throughout the state.” Ms. Doucette explained. “Our job is to explain why these exams are so important and eliminate those myths that a breast self exam is improper and that mammography is painful. We empower the women to know their bodies and be proactive with their health. The neighborhood outreach program known as “Reaching through the Cracks,” is designed to reach communities who are missing the message about breast health and screening. A $199,000 grant DBCC received from Highmark Community BluePrints Foundation makes the outreach possible.
In order to receive the screening, women must have a prescription for the mammogram from a doctor, which Ms. Doucette says is to be sure there is an appointment with a doctor before the mammogram and follow-up to review the results if needed. If a woman does not have a doctor, DBCC will help them find one. If the woman does not have insurance, DBCC works with them to see if they qualify for the State of Delaware’s Screening for Life program, designed for women that may be uninsured, under –insured or unemployed to get the health screenings they need. If they do not qualify for any subsidized program, DBCC will assist with the cost of the mammogram.
Ms. Doucette explained, “DBCC is contracted by the State of Delaware to manage the state’s mobile mammography screening program and Beebe Hospital is the screening partner. DBCC provides breast health education and navigation to the women being served. In cases where there is a language barrier, Carolina interprets for the women so they understand what is happening at all times.”
Guadalupe Sandoval says that she felt this was very necessary in her community, and even walked through the neighborhood with her children, putting flyers on every door to provide awareness about the event.
“Everyone in this neighborhood knows who I am,” said Ms. Sandoval. “When I heard Cristian and Rafael talking about the van, I was thinking about all the mothers who are working, or who don’t have cars, and how this would be great for them. Many of them need help but they just don’t know how to ask for it. Even if they can’t get screened today, they have the opportunity to do it at the next location.” DBCC provided a list of upcoming screenings to all who stopped to inquire about the van, and Ms. Doucette said she even had men stopping to pick up information to take to their wives and daughters.
Ms. Doucette said that Cristian Tijerino of LaExitosa was the first screening of the day, and called into the radio station to talk about the experience. Ms. Doucette says that having someone that the women in the community trust was a huge benefit, as it made many of the women more comfortable to know that someone they trust was willing to undergo the screening.
Women who participated in the screening said that it was a pleasant experience, reporting that they felt comfortable with the process. Ms. Doucette says that is a big reason the van is so successful.
“We bring the testing to them,” she said. “We also plan bigger events in the Hispanic communities. Those events are called “Vida!” which means ‘life’ in Spanish, and we partner with many different organizations in order to provide as many screenings as we can in one location. We work with local hospitals in an effort to provide cholesterol, blood pressure and all types of other screenings all at one location. All organizations that participate must provide a Hispanic speaking representative at the screenings as well.” The next screening will be LaRed in Georgetown on September 10, and another follows at the Kent County Public Library on September 12. For more information, contact DBCC at 1-888-672-9647.