Thursday, April 18, 2013

One Mother Saving Another

 Abnormal.  Those were the results of the pap smear that María Isidra Calderón got in November.

Maria Isidra with newborn grandson Cesar
I was scared, I thought I had cancer that couldn’t be treated,” she says, holding her newborn grandson César Joseph who’s just come home from his first well-child check.

After she got the results, the Nueva Vida Clinic’s health promoter Jessenia paid María Isidra a visit. “Jessenia told me that all of us who had abnormal results would be going to a clinic in Managua, and we all went together.  I was nervous, but the doctor explained everything to me.  And thanks to God, I’m okay now.”  María Isidra was one the first women to participate in the Nueva Vida Clinic’s new cancer prevention and detection program.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Nicaraguan women – two women are diagnosed in the country each day – and Nicaragua has more cervical cancer than any other country in Latin America except Haiti. 

Health promoter Jessenia during home visit
No woman should die of cervical cancer.  If it’s caught early, it’s easily treatable.  It’s caught early by going for regular pap smears that are read quickly and with timely follow-up for abnormal results.  Unfortunately, most Nicaraguan women don’t go for regular exams.  By the time they suspect something is wrong, they can wait months for pap results, and follow up for abnormal results might be scheduled months down the road. Cervical cancer kills more women in Nicaragua than any other cancer. 

That’s why we’ve started the Women’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Program at the Nueva Vida Clinic. Here’s what the program does: 
  •  Educates women about breast cancer and cervical cancer 
  • Teaches women how to do breast self-exams 
  •  Takes 30 women each month to the Ortiz Gurdián Foundation for mammograms 
  • Encourages women to come to the Clinic to have pap smears 
  •  Sends the paps to a private lab for quick turn-around (under 2 weeks) 
  •  Women with abnormal results are accompanied by the health promoter to the to remove precancerous lesions, perform directed biopsies and for regular follow-up appointments 
  •  Since November, the Clinic has taken 96 pap smears of which 8 have come back with abnormal results. Seven have been given a clean bill of health and scheduled for regular follow up exams; one has been scheduled for a hysterectomy. 
  •  Since March, 34 women have had mammograms, one had abnormal results and is scheduled for minor surgery this month.
Maria Isidra with daughters Ana & Marielis & grandson Cesar
Everywhere in the world, mothers put their children’s health above their own. They’ll take time off work to take their kids to the doctor, but their own complaints go untreated. María Isidra was no different. Her youngest daughter Marielis has epilepsy and needed constant supervision…she now gets her medication regularly from the Nueva Vida Clinic’s chronic illness program, and her epilepsy is under control.  María Isidra’s oldest daughter Ana Carolina is 19 and gave birth to her first son César last month. She now participates in the Clinic’s New Mothers Program.

Luckily for María Isidra’s family, she took the time to look after her own health – she’s been to four follow-up appointments and each time has been given a clean bill of health. “I’m happy,” she says rocking little César.  “Now I can look after my family.”

One Mother Saving Another…this Mother's Day give a gift in honor of your mother to the Nueva Vida Clinic’s new Women’sCancer Program.  Donate $25 to the program in honor of your mother and we’ll send her a beautiful e-card.  (Please email your name and her name & email address to  

Happy Mother’s Day!