TAMIU hosts Breast Cancer Awareness, Latinas Panel
By Carolina Cruz
Bridge Staff Writer
Published Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021
In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, TAMIU’s LULAC and SOLE hosted their first annual Breast Cancer Awareness Health Fair in the Student Center.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Latinas in the United States. In an effort to promote discussion and educate members of the community on this issue, a Breast Cancer and Latinas Panel was held at the end of the event.
Panelists for the Oct. 9 event consisted of health care workers, non-profit organization members, breast cancer survivors, a TAMIU Student Health representative and a local League of United Latin American Citizens member.
One in eight women are expected to develop breast cancer during their life. Local oncologist and co-founder of the Laredo Cancer Society Dr. Mohsen Mahani explained how crucial it is to understand that breast cancer is curable if detected in its early stages. One of the biggest problems with breast cancer occurs when patients wait too long before seeking medical help. In most cases, patients avoid getting a mammogram because of fear or shame.
Webb County LULAC President Raul Reyes said a stigma exists within the Latino community regarding the idea of exploring one’s body. However, he said there should be no shame in self-examinations, mammograms, pap smears or seeking medical services.
The right education on self-examinations and mammograms may save someone’s life. TAMIU Health Representative Associate Director Marycarmen Salinas recommends making it a habit to know one’s normal and to check oneself every day in addition to an annual mammogram.
“The more you know about your body, the more likely you will detect any changes in your body,” Director of Outreach Services at Mercy Clinic and Executive Director of Casa de Misericordia Sister Rosemary Welsh said. “Young people should also be cautious and learn how to detect it on themselves.”
Another prevalent issue surrounds the lack of access to affordable health care in Hispanic/Latino communities. According to a 2018 study, 27% of Laredoans younger than 65 are uninsured. It is a struggle for men and women to pay for medical expenses, often opting to go across the border to Mexico for more affordable health care.
Mahani reiterated the importance of early detection when looking at overall costs. There are less costs when a tumor is detected early versus the expenses a patient would incur if they wait until later stages, which require chemotherapy and more complex surgeries. Prevention through education and early detection become more important.
Salinas and Laredo Cancer Society representative Lucera Valdivia both spoke about their personal breast-cancer experiences. They encouraged people to form good support systems and how they discovered something was off with their body through regular self-exams.
“That’s the one thing I want to urge everyone … if you see something, don’t be afraid to speak up … be persistent,” Salinas said. “That’s my biggest advice to you all. Please listen to your body, know your body, get to a doctor because that’s what’s going to save you in the end.”