¡Viva las Campeonas!: Program encourages DC Latinas to share the message of breast cancer prevention & early detection
It is with great love and satisfaction that I announce the web page for the new Campeonas contra el cáncer de seno (Champions against Breast Cancer) project. Campeonas.org is now live on the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s website!
A Campeona is a Latina age 40 and over who shares her own story of getting screened for breast cancer with friends and family to encourage them to do the same. Because screening has not increased as much for Latinas as for women of other ethnic or racial backgrounds, the Foundation put together a team to design, develop, pilot test and implement the Campeonas project to help address this health disparity. The project is a culturally appropriate, informal outreach effort to friends and family to increase breast-cancer screening in the Latina community. The Campeonas training and free-standing community educational materials in both Spanish and English are available at no cost on the Foundation’s website for community organizations. One of these materials is a novela entitled Un encuentro oportuno: conversando sobre el cáncer de seno (“A Timely Encounter: Talking about Breast Cancer”) which uses pictures and a story to share information about breast-cancer screening.
The part of the Campeonas story I want to share is about the people, dedicated to the Latina community and to cancer prevention and early detection, who came together to make the project happen: the ¡Celebremos la vida! staff and volunteers at the Spanish Catholic Center in Washington, DC, and the McCarrick Center in Silver Spring, MD; the community volunteers on the advisory committee; the Washington, DC, metro community which made in-kind contributions; supportive colleagues across the Foundation; the Latinas who participated in formative research; the 22 Campeonas trained in pilot tests; and the project team of professionals with complementary skill sets, who saw the project through to its completion.
Many who worked on the project have been personally touched by cancer. Two members of the advisory committee were breast-cancer survivors; we all felt the loss when Elizabeth passed away midway through the project. On the project team, the designers and trainers Mary Jo and Gloria are both breast-cancer survivors. Project manager Suzette was diagnosed with cancer as she joined the team and went through chemotherapy as the project neared completion. The three of them often shared experiences of their illnesses and treatments and their gratitude for life and family. The support affected the whole team and made the project more real and meaningful for all. We know how much it means to save a life and Stop Cancer Before it Starts!
I end this blog with the Campeonas themselves. They gathered with the project team in October to share their stories of conversations about screening with their friends and family at home, at the laundromat and at church. They also talked of the strength they had found in themselves: as Campeonas, they felt empowered and confident to take on a health-affirming role with their loved ones. I am honored to be a part of this amazing new program and look forward to the progress that we will make in the new year.
The warmest of holiday wishes to all, ¡y amor, paz y mucha felicidad en el año nuevo!