Don’t face cancer alone

01.24.19

Mary* was worried. She didn’t have time to be sick. And she couldn’t leave her kids at the local shelter to find out why she wasn’t feeling well.

“If you’re in a shelter, you can’t control when you go to sleep, when you wake up or when you eat,” says Amber Richert, DNP, Nurse Practitioner. “When your health is another thing you can’t control, it can be really scary.”

One way that your support helps women take control of their health is by making preventive care like cervical cancer screenings available at each visit. For Mary, that meant that our mobile clinic came to the shelter where she was staying, and she got the answers that may have saved her life.

Mary’s screening came back abnormal, as it does for more than one in five of our clients (nearly double the national average). She had to see a gynecologist for a follow-up exam to determine whether she had cancer.

No one looks forward to going to the gynecologist, but for women with a history of trauma and a lack of trust in traditional health systems, it can be particularly frightening. That’s where community health workers come in.

Lilian Amaya, Lead Community Health Worker, walks clients like Mary through each step of the process, answering questions and going with them to their doctors’ visits.

“A lot of our clients are extremely overwhelmed as soon as they step in the hospital for the exam,” Lilian says. “They don’t always have support networks like friends and family to go with them. They tell me, ‘If it wasn’t for you helping me, I never would have come.’”

In 2018, you helped 1,200 women (250 more than the year before) get cervical cancer screenings—and the step by step guidance they needed to regain control of their health.

*Mary is a pseudonym.

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