Peer educators teach women about the importance of breast health screenings
Browse the aisles inside Northgate Market in Chula Vista and you’ll have no problem filling your grocery list.
But for some shoppers, the most useful part of their trip is located just outside the store’s front doors.
That’s where Raquel Sandoval sets up shop once a month. It’s one of the many different places she visits in south and central San Diego County as a “promotora,” or peer educator. She visits churches, street fairs and other gathering spots to spread the word about breast health to those who may be missing the message.
“Many women today don’t know when or how to get access to breast health screenings, often because of language and financial barriers,” Sandoval said. “We go out in the community and reach these women on their own terms, in a way that’s sensitive to their cultural and language needs.”
Sandoval is part of a community outreach program led by Scripps Health, called “Healthy Women, Healthy Families.” The program’s promotoras teach Latina, Asian and Pacific Islander women age 40 and older about the importance of early breast cancer screening. Promotoras also help guide women to available services and ensure clear communication with health care providers.
Sandoval says there are many reasons women don’t get breast exams. Some women don’t understand the importance, don’t have insurance or don’t know where to go. For others, there’s a social stigma attached to seeking out medical attention when not feeling ill.
Early detection plays a key role in breast cancer care. It often provides more treatment options, and can lead to better outcomes.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, San Diego, has provided grant funding for the Scripps program for more than a decade. Earlier this year, Komen San Diego awarded $1.4 million in grants to more than a dozen different local organizations for 21 unique programs to help reduce breast cancer incidence and mortality. It is the county’s largest funder of free breast cancer services and support for uninsured women and their families.
The Scripps program teaches more than 10,000 women per year about the importance of breast screenings. It also helps more than 3,000 women per year gain access to clinical mammography and other radiology services. Many of these women otherwise would not have had access to these services.
Sandoval and Kendra Brandstein of Scripps Health, along with Laura Farmer Sherman and Gloriaann Garcia of Komen San Diego, will be honored during pregame ceremonies July 13 at Petco Park. Scripps has been the official health care provider to the Padres since 1981. To find a Scripps physician, call 1-800-SCRIPPS.
- Stephen Carpowich