I'm a mother, wife, daughter, sister, teacher, nurse, chauffer, cook, maid, administrative assistant, accountant, executive director, and community health worker for my family. Does this sound familiar? It should, because this is often the case for many women in today's society. To fit in just one more thing is like asking an ant to move a truck. Sure, an ant can lift 20 times its body weight but lifting a truck is simply out of the question!
Well, thank goodness we aren't ants and fortunately for us we have the ability to make minor adjustments in our busy lives to accommodate important health recommendations-as long as we make ourselves a priority and add "important person" to our list of family roles.
The Naveguemos con Salud Breast Health Partnership project (NCS), a project of the Health Promotion Council of Southeastern PA, empowers underserved Latina women in Philadelphia to recognize that "it's their time" to make their health a priority. This program links women with a bilingual/bicultural community-based patient navigator who assists in all aspects of breast cancer prevention from education to treatment and beyond.
According to the 2010 Public Health Management Corporation Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, 45.4% of Latina women ages 18 and older in Philadelphia did not receive a clinical breast exam in the previous year. Furthermore, nearly one in three (31.1%) of Latinas in Philadelphia ages 40 and older had not received a mammogram in the past year. Because many minority women are not adhering to recommended breast cancer screening guidelines, cancers are discovered at later stages, contributing to higher mortality rates among these women. The earlier the cancer is spotted, the better the chance of survival.
There are a ton of reasons why women feel the need to put their own health on hold-many stemming from 1 of the 14 roles highlighted above-but we need to recognize and value protecting our own health for ourselves and our loved ones. One woman in the NCS program had nipple discharge for over 3 years, and had not gone to see a doctor because she had no insurance, limited funds, virtually no family support and three kids, one with bi-polar disorder and another with autism. She told our navigator that her primary concern is resources for her children at which time the navigator replied "I will help you find resources for your children…but we need to get you in to see a doctor because if not now…then when?"
CALLING ALL WOMEN! We need to take care of ourselves so that we can maintain our health and all of our important roles. Now is our time! Because if not now, then when?
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