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Examinate Comadre! TRP's Araceli Lucio on Chicago Catolico
Chicago Catolico – Translated by Alex Morales
Published: May 5, 2009
The Church Also Says “Examínate Comadre”
(original article from Chicago Catolico Vol.4 No.5 May 2009)
The Archdioceses of Chicago joins the annual campaign “Examínate Comadre”, a campaign aptly touted for Mother’s Day that aims to timely detect and prevent breast or cervical cancer among the women who attend their parishes.
Paulina Guzmán always remembers her happy encounter with a Latina woman whom she met in 2003 after being diagnosed with breast cancer. The women, without health insurance and also undocumented, had attended one of the workshops offered at no cost by Access Community Health Network with the purpose of preventing breast and cervical cancer deaths among minorities.
“After the workshop the women perform a test and detected breast cancer. Since she was undocumented, she couldn’t have access to the necessary funds to cover the cancer treatment but part of our mission is to get her in contact with hospitals where she can get the treatment at little or no cost. That was it and she survived” said Guzmán, program coordinator.
Guzmán deemed this case as a “God sent testimonial about the importance of the Examínate Comadre campaign”, one that her non-profit organization puts together at Illinois parishes and communities, with funding from the State’s Department of Public Health.
Through this initiative, over 250,000 women received information at one of the 300 parishes during 2008 and all around Illinois. “This year we want to reach to half million women at 600 parishes of different denominations” said Guzmán.
The campaign reaches it peak point during “Examínate Comadre” on Mother’s Day Sunday May, 10.
Good for the Epiphany Parish
When Alicia Barrios, community organizer for the Epiphany parish in Little Village found out that Examínate Comadre (Pin A Sister) is a program to save lives, she did not hesitate and contacted Access Community Health Network. Barrios realized that an effective way of disbursing this vital information in her community was during the distribution of food items. So every Monday, while the parishioners wait for these items at the parish located at 2425 S. Keeler Ave., a health advocate talks to them about the importance of mammography and pap smears tests.
“Most important is to save lives by reaching out to women or men that can rely to their wives about the risks they are facing if not tested” said Barrios.
The parish put the initiative in practice 8 months ago, when it was distributing food items to 50 families, by now they distribute 72 food packages weekly. “We are satisfied because we are not only helping your with your faith and basic food needs, but also with information that can save lives” said Barrios.
Araceli Lucio from The Resurrection Project, one of the non-profit organizations that help in the implementation of the campaign, emphasized on that this programs does not exclude any women, regardless of the migratory status she is in and permits her to receive the testing and treatment at little or no cost.
Latinas are at Higher Risk
The data managed by the Illinois Department of Health points at Caucasian women are the most prone to contract breast cancer, however Latinas registered the highest number of deaths due to this disease.
Based on the studies results, Guzmán assures that breast cancers is being diagnosed on Latinas when it is at advanced stages and this must be a due to not practicing preventive medicine as Caucasian women do.
“There are many obstacles. Many Latinas and African-American females do not have health insurance since it is too expensive. For obvious reasons, they rather pay their rent than going to the doctor. In the case of Latinas, the problems compound as some might be undocumented”. Araceli also explained the cultural aspect that comes to play as Latinas are not accustomed to this sort of testing.
For those in charge of coordinating and launching the campaign in the Chicago parishes this event is of capital importance as many women trust movements taking place within the Christian faith as it helps their brothers and sisters alike.
For Guzmán the message that this campaign transmits to Latina women is simple: regardless of your migratory status, we link you with the resources and proper care, this could save your life.
Access Community Health Network and The Resurrection Project invite other parishes to participate and register in the program by calling (773) 257-5901 or by email to [email protected].