Elizabeth, a 43 year-old mother of five, recently attended a WINGS cervical cancer screening clinic in her community of Xenocoj, where she tested positive for pre-cancerous cells. It had been four years since her last test because her family had been supporting her through a chronic kidney infection and simply could not afford to take her to be screened. Her eldest son left school when she got sick to support her as a day laborer, but the family still struggles to stay afloat. Elizabeth’s physical and financial troubles meant that her positive test result came as an even bigger blow to the family. They were very afraid to watch her suffer a second debilitating illness - this time potentially fatal. WINGS referred her to a specialist for further tests, supporting her financially and emotionally through the process, and it was decided that cryotherapy would be her best option. The treatment that she received ended the threat of cancer, and now Elizabeth is living cancer-free! For more information about WINGS' Cervical Cancer Prevention program, visit http://wingsguate.org/en/whatwedo/cervicalcancer
Monica, 27, grew up in Guatemala City’s main dump and has never made it out. Today she works there pulling discarded perfumes out from the trash to sell on. Doing this means Monica is just able to feed herself, but has never had enough for health-care. She heard that a WINGS Cervical Cancer clinic was coming to her neighborhood and recalled a Pap-Smear she had years ago with a different organization: she never got the result back. Monica worried she was at risk of having HPV (Human papillomavirus) as she was raped when she was 20 by an unknown man.
She decided to go the WINGS clinic and after some counseling got a Rapid Test for Cervical Cancer where she able to get her result within a minute. Unfortunately, her test revealed abnormal cell growth on her cervix. Monica was very frightened and the cancer was more advanced than WINGS' own Cryotherapy treatment can cure. But our nurse secured her an appointment with a specialist from the National Cancer Institute that same day so Monica began treatment within days. WINGS supported her through this and Monica has since made a great recovery. She is determined to get future checks with WINGS to make sure she stays in the clear.
Without this test, Monica would not have realized she was developing Cervical Cancer until it was too late. In fact, in Guatemala Uterine Cancer is the leading cause of Cancer related deaths in Guatemala even though it is highly treatable if detected early. With your support more women like Monica can get low-cost, reliable and rapid tests and treatment through WINGS.
Amanda’s sister persuaded her to tag along to a WINGS clinic in their community near Patzun. Despite being sexually active since marrying six years ago, 27-year old Amanda had never thought to get a cervical cancer test. At the WINGS’ mobile clinic she listened to a short talk explaining what cervical cancer is, risk factors, symptoms, and treatment and decided to get tested. She was pleased that the Via/Cryo techniques WINGS uses produce immediate results and same-day treatment if necessary. As this was all very new to her, Amanda was utterly shocked to learn that she had pre-cancerous cells. Our nurse and educator, Flori, explained the need for urgent treatment and Amanda opted for cryotherapy to tackle the cancer that very afternoon. This treatment has a success rate of 85-90% and Amanda’s experience was no exception. She is now healthy and plans to attend regular checkups in the future with her sister.
WINGS' Nurse Flori (who treated Amanda) commented that, “for numerous economic and cultural reasons it can be hard to get women out of the house and into our mobile clinics. It’s important that they are educated in the risks they face and in how to seek reliable testing and treatment”.
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.
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
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