Maria Antonia, 44, has had 14 pregnancies, including three miscarriages, and has nine living children.
She came to WINGS after having waited three months in vain for Pap smear results from her local health clinic. When she heard that WINGS was conducting screenings with same-day results, she decided to get tested again. It is lucky she did, as the results showed that she had cervical cancer. Within twenty-four hours, WINGS’ cervical cancer nurse brought Maria to a hospital for radiotherapy treatment. Now Maria looks forward to sharing her story with other women in her community so that they understand the risks of cervical cancer and decide to get screened.
WINGS Family Planning educator, Evelyn Roquel provides vital private counselling for women interested in using a contraceptive method to ensure they are fully aware of their options. Here, Angelina, a WINGS beneficiary who was able to receive a voluntary tubal ligation after WINGS came to her remote community, speaks about her initial reservations about the operation and its significance to her:
"I heard about the mobile clinic at a talk the lady from WINGS gave in San Juanita. I approached her that day to say I had some concerns about the operation and she wrote my name down. Later, she came to see me in my home where I explained to her that I wanted to have a tubal ligation but that I was really worried about what to do with my kids after the operation – my baby girl is still young, and I already have 7 kids. She told me there was no problem because I only had to take it easy for a few days. That put my mind at rest – you see, sometimes there’s no food or work so [Angela appears anxious]... If she hadn’t explained to me how the operation works I don’t think I would have done it.
These family planning operations for men and women are great for us, our families, and for our communities. I’m thankful from the bottom of my heart because people came all the way out to here in San Juan la Laguna so that we women could have good healthcare. Thank you."
Since 2001 WINGS has been providing Guatemalan women in underserved communities with same-day cervical cancer screening and treatment services, and subsidizing the cost of any necessary follow-up treatment.
In an initiative to reach even more women with this vital service, WINGS recently teamed up with Fundacion Pantaleon (The Pantaleon Foundation) who represent Central America’s largest sugar producer. In this successful collaboration, Fundacion Pantaleon covered the costs for WINGS to hold four months worth of cervical cancer screening clinics across 20 communities in the poor coastal region of Escuintla. Importantly, Pantaleon also arranged for leaders in target communities to carry out promotion of WINGS’ services to local women and worked with them to set up suitable locations for clinics to be held. This local support greatly eased the normal logistical challenges that WINGS staff must overcome to access women in a new community, and allowed them to focus wholly on providing high quality, rapid cervical cancer detection and treatment services. As a result, a phenomenal 1163 women were screened, many for the first time. Of these women, 15 screened positive for cervical cancer, 10 of whom were immediately treated by cryotherapy. Eight women were referred to follow-up medical treatment with WINGS’s support either due to the presence of advanced cancerous lesions or complex abnormalities.
Paty, who coordinates the cervical cancer program, is delighted with the successful partnership, ¨it was excellent because we were able to work with communities that really need this service¨. WINGS is likely to continue working with Pantaleon this year and has already set up similar projects with other local industries.
For more information about Fundacion Pantaleon visit their website: http://www.fundacionpantaleon.org/index.php?showPage=440&cache=1