October 19th is the International Day Against Breast Cancer.
Facing a serious illness requires a lot of strength and support from loved ones.
People’s affection contributes to having a better state of mind and overcoming the challenges that may be faced on a daily basis. One of the most common chronic diseases is breast cancer, a disease that affects both men and women, but is much more common in the female sector.
Overcoming this disease and its possible after-effects is not easy. Therefore, the Nova Clinic, along with the Unidas Contigo association, created in 2011 the Nova Self-Help Group, where women who suffer from this disease, as well as survivors, share their testimonials.
In this group, women listen to talks related to health, diet, exercise, and emotion management. In addition, they are provided psychological support so that they know that they are not alone.
“The members have done an extraordinary job. Their social commitment is contagious and overwhelming. They care for themselves so they can accompany other women. In these 10 years, the dream has been coming true”, said Estela Vázquez, head of the Department of Social Work at the Nova Clinic.
The Nova Self-Help Group has supported more than 100 members since 2011 (photo taken prior to the COVID-19 contingency).
To date, the group has helped more than 100 Nova members who are experiencing or have faced this disease. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this group, the slogan "And thus, united walking together in the heart of Nova" was created.
The members also have a commitment to society. In cold weather, they knit hats to donate to local hospitals. In addition, each year they attend the Nova Health Fair, where they install the Pink Movement module, whose objective is to make people aware of the importance of getting mammographies.
“There is no way to prevent breast cancer, but we can detect it early. For this reason, we strongly emphasize mammographies, for it can be detected from stage zero”, advised Gerardo Amarante, in charge of the Breast Clinic at Nova Clinic.
According to INEGI data, in 2019, for every 100,000 women aged 20 or over, 35.24 new cases of breast cancer were reported in Mexico.
This group shares testimonies and experiences about their confrontation with this disease (photo taken prior to the COVID-19 contingency).
For María del Roble Cortinas, a survivor of this disease, the group has been a space where she has felt the support of more women who have been through the same thing.
“I’m in the group because I want people to be more aware. Here we feel protected, we become sisters. We are all in the same shoes. We’re no longer friends, we’re sisters,” María said.
For Maria, the detection of breast cancer was different. In 2011, she attended a Health Fair at the Nova Clinic, where she got an ultrasound.
María del Roble Cortinas
Following her results, she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. It was in December 2011, when Maria had to undergo surgery to remove cancer from one of her breasts.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, we had no clue, we had no information about anything. I was scared because cancer for me was the same as death. But God, my family, and my desire to keep on going, especially my attitude, have been what has helped me the most. Faith has been my flag in this disease”, she highlighted.
For Carolina Espinoza, another breast cancer survivor, belonging to this group has been vital in expressing her feelings about her experience against this disease.
For example, one of the hardest moments was when she lost her hair to chemotherapy, so she opted to wear a wig. However, after leaving his first day of the Nova Self-Help Group, she decided not to wear it again.
“What my colleagues who had already been through this process told me worked for me. They are the ones who understand you the most. It is good to be in the group because they know what you feel at that moment. You feel welcomed,” she recalled.
In January 2011, Carolina was diagnosed with breast cancer. She felt a needle in her heart. That was her call to get medical assistance.
She underwent a radical mastectomy, where her left breast was removed, as the microcalcification was spread across the top of her breast.
“Now I live differently; I am a very apprehensive person, but cancer made me enjoy life more. I didn’t enjoy things before. I didn't have time for myself, but now I do, I had to change,” she mentioned.