WASHINGTON – The White House honored Tampa,Fla.,health advocate Myriam Escobar Tuesday as a Champion of Change for her work teaching Hispanic women about early detection of breast cancer and promoting healthy living.
Escobar,a community outreach worker at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa,said she immigrated to the U.S. with her son and husband from Colombia in 2006.
“In 2008,we had a terrible loss in our family,” Escobar said during a panel discussion at the White House. “My sister-in-law died of breast cancer. She just didn’t pay attention to the symptoms. So for those things in life that only God has the answer,the very next day she passed away,I was working for Moffitt Cancer Center for the department to teach the community about prevention.”
Escobar champions the Moffitt initiative Yo me cuido – I take care of myself – which takes information and resources to Hispanic women to encourage health screenings and healthy lifestyles with a focus on breast cancer prevention. She said the program targets Hispanic women because they are more likely to be diagnosed in the later stages of cancer.
Yo Me Cuido has reached about 2,000 women – about half of those in the group who are over 40 have had mammograms.
“The most important thing of this program is that we track every one of these ladies,” Escobar said during the discussion. “So we start to make phone calls,we send emails and postcards. We make sure they have their mammograms. We joke,we say that we are the Tampa police of the mammograms. Because we don’t stop. We just keep calling and calling and after one year they’ve had their mammogram,we call again.”
The White House honors Champions of Change each week. They visit the White House and discuss their work with others who are doing similar work.
Part of Yo me cuido includes workshops that last about two hours – where Escobar and her colleagues provide information for the women to take home about early prevention and risk reduction.
But you won’t find these programs just at health fairs.
“We go wherever there is a group of women,” Escobar said on the panel. “We go to churches,libraries,the schools. We go to the beauty salons … wherever they are we go. They invite us. We go on Saturdays,nights.”
Escobar said she hopes the program will go national to help and reach more women.
Reach reporter Jessica C. Wray at [email protected] or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.