Working against the statistics at Project Alajuelita

While breast cancer mortality rates are on the decline in most Latin American countries, Costa Rica has seen a steady increase in the past year according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). FIMRC provides not only clinical care at its site in Costa Rica, but also has a strong preventative focus through health education efforts. Last week, the clinic at Project Alajuelita worked in collaboration with the Breast Cancer Foundation of Costa Rica to spread awareness about the disease, encourage self-testing, and offer mammograms.

During clinic hours in the morning, mammograms were offered in addition to normal services. Women who come to the clinic, whether for themselves or their children, were encouraged to sign up for a mammogram.

On Monday afternoon, a representative from the Breast Cancer Foundation came to the clinic to give a presentation about breast cancer, specifically to encourage self-testing. About a dozen women from the community, along with the FIMRC staff and volunteers, were present. While a few volunteers entertained the children outside, the representative spoke on a number of topics related to breast cancer. She first gave a basic overview about what breast cancer is. She then dispelled a number of common myths about breast cancer, and addressed cultural taboos regarding self-testing and gave out handouts to demonstrate how to carry out a self-test.

Thank you to FIMRC Volunteers from UC Berkeley, Harvard University, and Brown University for playing a key role in the success of the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign and to FIMRC Staff for coordinating such an amazing event!

**Update 1/28/2014 - In the week following FIMRC's breast cancer awareness campaign, women with irregular exam results were able to receive mammograms and ultrasounds from a partner organization in Costa Rica - Fundacion Nacional de Solidaridad Contra el Cancer de Mamas. As an organization that believes in providing sustainable health care instead of one-time campaigns, we are thrilled that the women in Alajuelita receiving the follow up care they need and deserve.