Hispanics Need Wellness Education With a Twist
Closed Caption Transcript:
I am the third generation of my family to be diagnosed with cancer. My grandmother first, then my mother, my father, even my stepmom all passed away because of it. And seven years ago, it's going to be eight years ago, I got the news of my stage 3A breast cancer. Having health insurance, family support and higher education and being bilingual were not enough to protect me from cancer. I am Aidee Granados, founder and CEO of Rosa Es Rojo, a non-profit making wellness and cancer prevention a reality for the high risk cancer population of Hispanic women. Our mission in Rosa Es Rojo is to educate them the Hispanic women on the topics of nutrition, physical activity, emotional health and positive thinking using Spanish and culturally relevant content as part of our social innovation. What, why cancer? Maybe we are asking why cancer and cancer prevention? While cancer is the leading cause of death among Latinos in this country. And according to American Cancer Society, one in three Latino women living in the states in this country will be diagnosed with cancer today that are almost 60 million Latinos in the US. Forty eight percent of them are women, which means at least nine million Latinas are at risk because of cancer. And let me tell you this. My very own daughter is part of this statistic. She Hispanic. She's living in the states. What can we do to ensure that she and young women like her don't inherit this part of my family's legacy? Well, research shows that at least 42 percent of all cancer cases have roots in an unhealthy lifestyle. What does that mean? Unhealthy lifestyle, like poor diet, obesity, tobacco and alcohol use. Of course, is chronic stress. And making wellness education, it is a vital part for prevention, of preventing cancer. Cancer awareness organizations today need to invest much more in wellness education. Build social capital and lobby for accessible medical attention and insurance options for the Latino community. We are getting sick not only because we don't have enough economic resources, but because there is a lack of wellness, education and social capital among us. According to American Cancer Society, again, uninsured patients and those from minorities are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage when we know treatment can be more expensive, costlier and less successful. We have seen that once Latinas are diagnosed with cancer, most of them, they are not empowered enough to financially support the cost of treatments and there is spillover effects. For every dollar a white person earns, Latinos earn 58 cents and Latina women 44 cents. This means that in addition to investing in researching and cures, cancer awareness organization or social services institutions need to make it easier for us for Latinas and their families to get wellness, education and medical attention so that they can adopt healthier lifestyles and afford regular checkups and also screenings to spot cancer as early as possible. Prevention is a key. Today, 48.6 million people in this country speak Spanish, and 11 million of them are undocumented Latin American immigrants who have come to pursue the American dream. They understand enough basic English in order to be productive. We have seen that. However, when you are dealing with terms such as carcinoma in situ, disease free survival, metastases, mortality rate, remission, targeted meds, you can be easily lost and you can be overwhelmed. Let let me tell you this story, this example. Leslie, that she's originally from Guatemala. She received her breast cancer diagnosis in 2018. She's a volunteer and ambassador with Rosa Es Rojo. She had to rely on her daughter to serve as her main interpreter at the hospital. Leslie reports that she has been able to listen to the doctors and understand a few ideas, but without her daughter's help, she wouldn't be able to understand her disease or the detailed instructions she needed for a successful recovery. So when children and teenagers are serving as their parents own translators, it is a sign of a broken system. And Latinas in America deserve better. Part of fixing that system will be rethinking how we approach wellness education for Latino communities and other minorities. Most of the time talking about Latinos, we receive a plain translation of medical formats and also classes related to cancer education. But language is important, yes, but culturally relevant content is key for changing behaviors and breaking the pathology of an unhealthy lifestyle. Cancer awareness organizations and other nonprofits like us, we are struggling to serve the minority, the Latinos, because there is a lack of wellness and cancer prevention programs that address our needs in a way that resonates for us. They need to include not just our language, but also our idioms, the traditional foods, way of expressing love and disgust, even jokes, myths and music. I personally lived through the efforts of my medical team at the hospital trying to convince me to eat more green salad. I remember that very well. Not knowing, they didn't know that I prefer to eat cucumbers or jicama with lime juice or a pinch of salt and chili flakes on top. Another example, I didn't understand why sometimes a doctor didn't shake hands with me. When traditionally, I wanted to thank him with a kiss on the cheek or a tight hug. That was the way that I was expressing... That I was thankful. I had also a difficult time thinking about myself first, because when I was taught, by my heritage, to think about others first. If we are going to be educated on how to achieve wellness, educators must not forget that a vast majority of us are huggers, a little bit nosy for the good of our communities, and often like to eat tortillas with cactus. There is a clear bottom line case for making these changes. In Texas, just in Texas, every dollar invested in cancer prevention leads to 26 in treatment cost savings. This is key for financial empowerment. And healthy people, regardless of their ethnicity, are good for the economy, just as sick people are bad for it. In 2018 alone, Texas had more than a million lost jobs due to cancer treatment, morbidity and mortality with a total cost to the economy of some of $212 billion. Our social innovation Rosa Es Rojo serving in Fort Worth and other cities around North Texas, fills the gap created, but by cultural barriers offering a Spanish solution for wellness education, using culturally relevant content, and this has been possible thanks to our signature programs. Let me explain more about them. The first one is The Rojo Way, which is our 20 hour long program that uses in person and also virtual group training, one on one mentorship sessions and support group. Our second program is called SuperVive or SuperVive, which is a virtual wellness education segment based on a podcast, a weekly podcast and a YouTube channel that can be accessed by anyone anywhere. You can go to a Spotify, Apple podcast, Google podcast, YouTube, even our website. And you can listen to these continuing wellness education. These programs, El Camino Rojo, The Rojo Way and SuperVive are effectively breaking the pathology of unhealthy lifestyles, which can reduce cancer. And we know that no other organization reaching is reaching the Hispanic community with this innovative approach. As of today, Rosa Es Rojo has delivered more than 10,000 hours of wellness education, reaching more than 1200 Hispanic women and more than 5000 community members just in North Texas. Based on our evaluation tools, our participants have reported that they improved by 91 percent their choice in food options. By 89 percent, they have improved their emotional health. 92 percent of our participants, they have improved their ability to learn optimism and 77 percent of them, they have improved their resilience and wellbeing. Underserved Hispanic women served by Rosa Es Rojo today are empowered to make conscious decisions that positively impact their lifestyles, but also, though, and those of their children creating a ripple effect. Our participants can also take what they have learned back to their communities by becoming ambassadors and volunteers, just like Leslie, that we were talking about Leslie. Women like her, like Leslie and their entire families, are at risk due to a lack of knowledge about wellness, resources and social capital. It is not easy for social services, we know, and institutions such as hospitals, nonprofits, churches and government agencies to serve the Latino community effectively. But for the sake of millions of us, they must do better, we must do better. I remember last year. That I was watching Leslie doing a Facebook live from an intensive care unit in a hospital in the Metroplex. She was in ICU and she had had a surgery that took doctors more than eight hours to complete. Leslie was in pain, but she was enthusiastic. She, of course, is close to finishing, was close to finishing her treatment, and her daughter was by her side holding the phone for her mom, reporting to us about how things went for her. Sharing updates. And Leslie. Could only say a few words, but her experience, her lives, her life speaks volumes. Thank you, Impact Fort Worth. Because you, today, you are a real initiative to help our communities, our Hispanic community get better and strong. Thanks to social innovation, but mainly thanks to social innovators just like you. Thank you.