When Venus Gines saw a lack of health information, she seized the opportunity to educate herself – and those in her own Latin community.
"I had breast cancer and there was a lack of information from my doctor about breast cancer," she says. "I made it my mission to ascertain the prevalence of breast cancer in our Latino community. I discovered that there was very little data, educational material and accessibility."
It”s been just over a decade since Gines formed Dia de la Mujer Latina (DML), headquartered in Gwinnett, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education and screening to the Latina community for breast cancer and cervical cancer as well as other health issues like diabetes, STDs, pregnancy tests and even domestic violence education. DML now receives funding from the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and hosts annual health fiestas, held on the first day of May.
"Over the last 10 years of this one-day event, DML has provided medical and dental screening to a total of 34,269 women," Gines says. "It is in partnership with the American Cancer Society, Latino merchants and community-based organizations, as well as academic institutions, local hospitals and county health clinics in an effort to provide culturally-specific health education and screening, follow-up care and patient navigation to poor, underserved, uninsured women in Atlanta." Last year alone, 56 cases of breast and cervical cancer were detected early by event screenings.
But Gines is worried about the future of her mission. "Because of fallout from the immigration reform, many hospitals and clinics have backed out from partnering because of the fear of backlash," she says. "I”m worried because we have come so far in empowering women to get their mammogram every year. I”m concerned about the message that women are getting."
For more information on DML, visit diadelamujerlatina.org.