Saturday, November 27

The fight against cancer resumed in NYC after the pause forced by the COVID-19 pandemic


It was the year 2010 and the oncological diagnosis that the Dominican immigrant Fary De León, resident of The Bronx, it was devastating: breast cancer, category 3, triple negative.

The life expectancy for the Quisqueyana who worked in the hospital sector was clearly, not very encouraging.

“They told me that could survive, if anything, three months To one year. Bottoms out. I saw myself between life and death. But in the midst of that tragedy, of chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions, I made a promise to myself that if I survived, my mission would be help my Hispanic community “, says Fary.

Today, 11 years later, she has the strength to be a militant, as she herself defines it, of “a cause” that was drawn up when everything seemed lost. And that this year, still in the middle of the pandemic, it seems to regain another meaning.

“Unfortunately the health system, for all that COVID-19 involved, put on a pause to the treatment, monitoring and diagnosis of many patients. And that’s the difference between living and dying. I am here because I was diagnosed early. !And that is precisely my renewed struggle! “, emphasizes immigrant.

As soon as he got over the radiation that even caused third degree burns, he founded the organization in Manhattan ‘Latino Faces of Cancer’, aimed at mobilizing Hispanic women concern for early diagnosis and promoting support services in Spanish in the city of New York.

“When I received the diagnosis I tried to find support groups for my family, because it is something emotionally devastating. And I did not find it. That is why this year when we are still facing COVID-19, it is important that we highlight in our women that do not neglect your check-up”, Highlighted the activist.

Dominican Fary De León made the fight against breast cancer a life mission, after being diagnosed. (Photo: Courtesy)

The marches return to raise awareness

For seven consecutive years, Fary organized the Latino Walk Against Breast Cancer in Upper Manhattan, which was suspended last year due to social distancing policies, but now oil the engines to reactivate.

In this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is celebrated around the world to increase the attention and support given to the awareness, early detection, treatment and palliative care, for Fary the 2021 takes a greater sense.

“We have to reinforce and tell him out loud to our Hispanic women, that if last year due to the pandemic they postponed their routine check-ups, they must at all costs resume them. It is a determining factor”, He highlighted.

The activist prepares to support this Sunday, October 17 reflection events organized by the American Cancer Society (ACS) from New York, and which will be held in the five counties of the Big Apple starting at 8 am and in which it has been motivating for several editions.

For more than two decades, the ACS has united communities in the fight against this life-threatening disease. This year to participate, an online registration will be required, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which can be done on the website cancer.org, where you can also get information detailed meeting points and donations.

10 years ago, Dominican activist Fary De León faced the rigors of cancer therapies. (Photo: Courtesy)

Deep Impact

The founder of Caras Latinas del Cáncer and also author of the book Challenges of a Call, where he reviews his fight against this disease, he witnessed how this public health crisis implied a challenging and distressing moment for survivors of various pathologies.

“My oncologist recommended that I not go out, not even to have my mandatory tests twice a year. They simply couldn’t help us because of the pandemic. It was complicated”He recalled.

The personal experience of this islander, after more than a decade bravely confronting an evil from various sides, has been one of the deeper collateral damage caused to thousands of patients by the hospital crisis caused by the coronavirus and that precisely becomes more visible when the ‘pink month’ is commemorated of global awareness about this type of cancer, the most common in Hispanic women in the country.

As required by a special report from breastcancer.orgIn the spring of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local governments recommended that health systems delay scheduled procedures, that is, surgeries, screenings and other treatments that do not were urgent.

“People may have had to wait weeks or months to undergo certain breast cancer surgeries, unless they had a diagnosis of a very aggressive type. Furthermore, breast imaging studies were only available for urgent cases ”, explains the report

Hospitals limited services to prevent highly vulnerable people from being exposed to COVID-19 and also to save resources like beds, personal protective equipment and blood.

Bárbara López, from Puebla, lost her father Magdaleno in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, after radiotherapies had been suspended. (Photo: Courtesy)

“They suspended chemotherapies”

The word ‘cancer’ has for the Mexican Barbara López a triple painful meaning. But it is also a very powerful impulse to bet on a healthy and preventive life, in the face of an “enemy” that is often silent and caused the death of their parents. And that currently affects his sister’s health.

At the worst moment of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Big Apple, a malignant tumor in the colon took the life of last May 2020 from Magdaleno López, 89 years old, father of this immigrant from Puebla who lives in Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

16 years ago a withering cancer in the bones caused the death of Barbara’s mother. In addition, her sister is a breast and thyroid cancer survivor, undergoing lifelong treatment.

“Obviously I know there are a predisposition to cancer in my family. And that has made me choose a very healthy life. I am vegan and I also completely avoid the consumption of salt, sugar and alcohol, ”she shared.

Barbara, 60, who is also a community activist in her neighborhood, insists that “for nothing in the world” women they must neglect their annual check-ups.

“Last year due to the emergency of the pandemic, in March 2020, my dad was suspended from chemotherapy. Sadly in a matter of weeks cancer spread through his bones “.

Bárbara López from Puebla (left) is dedicated to community work in Sunset Park (Photo: F. Martínez)

We must prevent!

Still, in the middle of the abyss that meant a city shaken by a public health crisis and also the death of his father, this aztec immigrant he did not put aside his own health.

“I don’t give up my breast screening. I know that last year many people and even more women put aside their check-ups for everything about COVID-19. I was not careless. Not out of fear. But because in my case, where I have suffered so much from this evil, I believe that the smarter reaction is prevention. And I insist on that to my friends and neighbors ”, she highlighted.

And precisely on this coming October 17, when several walks are organized as part of the activities for raising awareness about breast cancer and supporting the victims, Bárbara’s personal postulate comes to the fore: We must prevent!

“Cancer screening tests scheduled for you should be part of your regular life. These studies are used when the person has not noticed symptoms and they are useful in finding cancer in an early stage, when it is possibly easier to treat ”, is the main guideline of ACS in its campaign in Spanish this month.

The Most Common Cancer in Hispanics

According to data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) available through 2016, black and white women in the Big Apple showed “a higher death rate (25.3 deaths and 23.3 deaths, respectively). , per 100,000 women) than Latina women (14.1) and Asian (11.0) for this evil.

Latest data revealed by the report ACS Cancer Facts & Statistics Among Hispanics 2018-2020, specifies that throughout the country breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed among Hispanic women.

Some interesting findings follow from this research.

“In the Hispanic population, studies have shown that the risk of breast cancer it is even lower in those who are foreign born. This pattern is largely attributed to a higher prevalence of reproductive factors, including younger age at delivery and less use of hormonal therapy for menopause ”, details the scientific report.

Pink Events’ in NYC this Sunday

  • Manhattan in Central Park.
  • El Bronx en Orchard Beach.
  • Queens en Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
  • Staten Island and Midland Beach.

4 Alerts from the American Cancer Society

  • From 45 years all women are recommended to have the tests for breast cancer detection, with the possibility of choosing to do them from the age of 40.
  • The health care centers where these breast cancer detection tests are performed currently have security measures in place to protect your health.
  • Resuming your scheduled tests is safe and it is best to do it as soon as possible. They should not be postponed any longer.
  • Screening tests are used to find cancer before a person has any symptoms. That is why it is important that you go through all the discarding tests that apply to you even if you feel fine.
  • The risk of Hispanics

    • 87% was the decrease in breast cancer detection tests during the most complicated months of the pandemic in 2020 compared to the previous five years, conclude some statistics from the National Program for the Early Detection of Cervical and Breast Cancer
    • 1 in 12 Hispanics age 50 and older henceforth, they have some probability of developing breast cancer according to estimates published by ACS.
    • 14.3 chance of dying from this disease women of Latino origin have, as opposed to 20.6 in non-Hispanic white women.


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