Aunt Irma’s Second Chance: Part 1

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Aunt Irma’s Second Chance: Part 1

by Karly Garcia
YWCA Seattle-King County-Snohomish County

There is a history of cancer in my family. We have one survivor and, sadly, one loss: my Aunt Irma. When my Aunt Irma died, I was young and there was nothing I could do for her. I couldn’t express how important she was to me and how important she was to my cousin (her son).

Not long ago, I was thinking of my aunt and I wondered, if she were still alive, what are the things she would say? What would she have changed to prevent this (breast cancer) from happening? I asked my cousin these same questions, and our conversation sparked an idea to write a story about my aunt’s battle with cancer, in the hopes of encouraging women to have routine screenings and health exams. There are so many women who find themselves in the same situation as my Aunt Irma, unable to receive a routine screening because they did not know they should or because they lack access to the resources and technology that help treat and prevent cancer.

I am a Latina outreach specialist for YWCA Seattle-King County-Snohomish County Women’s Health Outreach program. Since I took the role of Outreach Specialist, Aunt Irma’s story has served as my inspiration. As Women’s Health Outreach specialists, my staff and I try to offer women the resources my aunt never received: routine screenings.  By offering routine screenings, we hope to not only save lives, but also prevent women and their families from having to go through what my family went through.

During screening events, so many Latina women tell me all the reasons why they don’t get routine screenings: they are afraid to find out the results; they think a mammogram is a painful procedure; or they cannot afford screenings because they are “low income” and do not have insurance. I often tell them it’s OK to be nervous; it’s normal to feel some discomfort and pain during the screening, but it is well worth it to know that you don’t have cancer, or that it has been detected early enough to start treatment and to survive. Through my words and with Irma’s story to back me up, I am able to achieve the ultimate goal: changing women’s minds. I not only help them receive routine screenings, but I also help them form positive thoughts about health exams in general.

We can make a difference for women by educating them on the importance of a mammogram screening. To help inspire women to be healthy and proactive, come back to the YWCA USA blog tomorrow to read my aunt’s story.

Karly Garcia has been the Latina outreach specialist for YWCA Seattle-King County-Snohomish County Women’s Health Outreach program for the last 3 years.

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