New Book Relates Latina Breast Cancer Experience

Latino cancer survivors


Survivors who shared their stories in Nuestras Historias gather for a book unveiling ceremony.

October 12, 2004.

Among Latina women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the number one cancer killer. In a new book produced by Redes En Acción, 26 South Texas women who have fought this deadly disease describe the Latina breast cancer experience in their own words.

The book, Nuestras Historias: Mujeres Hispanas Sobreviviendo el Cáncer del Seno (Our Stories: Hispanic Women Surviving Breast Cancer), is a 114-page, full-color publication presented in both English and Spanish. Through the stories of the women, the book relates the influence of the Hispanic/Latino culture on the breast cancer experience and on the coping skills used by many of the Latina women in battling the disease.

"One of the threads that you see running throughout these stories is the amazing resilience of these Latinas as they cope with a disease that is having a devastating impact not only on their own lives but on the lives of their families and loved ones," notes Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, Redes En Acción Principal Investigator and Professor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Ramirez is also the Associate Director of Community Research for the San Antonio Cancer Institute (SACI).

The women's stories reflect this resilience and resolve not only in fighting the disease, but also in confronting the numerous accompanying issues -- fear, depression, financial worries, and the possibility of leaving loved ones behind. Coping skills employed in this day-to-day battle included prayer and faith, as well as reliance on tools such as humor, music, books, dance -- even family pets.

The stories include practical advice, such as the importance of regular screening, the value of perseverance and education, and the assistance available through local organizations that provide support and help guide patients through the health care system.

Nuestras Historias serves a dual purpose -- inspiration and educational -- and will be provided free to Latina women diagnosed with breast cancer through area organizations such as the San Antonio Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF), American Cancer Society (ACS), and Women Involved in Nurturing, Giving and Sharing (WINGS).

Publication of Nuestras Historias was supported by grants from SACI, the San Antonio Affiliate of the Komen Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. SACI is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and represents the combined cancer research programs of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the Cancer Therapy and Research Center.

What Is Redes En Acción? Redes En Acción is a major NCI-supported initiative to combat cancer among Latinos through a nationwide network of community-based organizations, research institutions, government health agencies and the public. Core activities include promoting cancer training and research opportunities for Latino students and researchers, generating research projects on key Latino cancer issues, and supporting cancer awareness activities within the Latino community.

The initiative is coordinated by the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and San Antonio, with regional network centers in San Antonio, New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and San Diego.