escrito por Anielka Medina, Directora Ejecutiva
En mi blog anterior he hablado de algunos factores por lo cuales The Lily Project, se ha vuelto tan popular entre las mujeres. Me complace decir que en menos de un mes hemos atendido a 221 mujeres.
Me encanta compartir historias, por que esto nos hace crecer y entender la importancia que tiene apoyar este proyecto dedicado a las mujeres. Cada día que pasa me siento bendecida de que cientos de mujeres confíen en nosotros.
Chacraseca es una comunidad muy pobre. Totalmente agrícola, todas las mujeres trabajan en los hogares criando animales, cargando grandes baldes de agua de un lugar a otros para cocinar, buscando leña. Por lo que nunca cuentan con un salario que les permita decidir en realizarse un examen para prevenir el cáncer cervical.
Doña Josefa de 60 años, camino mas 4km para ser una de las primeras en ser atendidas, ya que el centro de salud que ella visitaba le dijo que ya no necesitaba realizarse Papanicolaou por que ya estaba muy mayor, ella expresaba que aun tiene un esposo y que desea ver a sus nietos crecer, ya que aun se sentía joven y llena de vida y que temía por su salud, ya que tenia mas de 2 años de no realizarse un examen por culpa del centro y no podía pagar un examen.
María de 40 años es una ama de casa, dedicando todo su vida al servicio de su familia, hace 3 años se realizo su primer Papanicolaou el cual expreso que tenia cáncer de cuello uterino, por lo que tuvo una intervención quirúrgica (Histerectomía). Con mucha pena y lagrimas en los ojos nos contaba que desde ese tratamiento su vida se convirtió en un infierno, ya que su esposo piensa que sin matriz, ella no sirve para nada. Cómo puede un hombre decir esto?
Hemos tratado de involucrar a hombres en las charlas, pero aun no logramos que asistan, explicamos a todas las mujeres, como es nuestro cuerpo anatómicamente, para que sepan que la Histerectomía, no interfiere en el placer sexual.
Las mujeres no solo tienen que soportar la enfermedad, sino también el machismo de sus esposos, siendo esta una de las principales causas de muertes de cáncer cervical en Nicaragua. Esperamos que a través de este proyectos muchas mujeres puedan comprender que lo mas importante para alcanzar la felicidad es la toma de decisiones que le beneficien a sentirse saludable.
Para sentirse feliz, saludable y mujer tienen que romper barreras y ser luchadoras, nosotros queremos ser participe de este guerra, donde ellas serán las vencedoras de la lucha que estamos empezando contra el cáncer cervical. No queremos que niños, adolescentes, sufran la ausencia de una madre, por una enfermedad que no debería de matar a nadie, por su fácil detección.
**Las historias y comunidades mencionadas en este blog, son representativas de las mujeres y comunidades que hemos visitado. Los nombres han sido cambiados para proteger a las mujeres a quienes servimos.
by Anielka Medina, Executive Director
As we continue moving the The Lily Project forward in Chacraseca, a vast, rural area outside of Leon, I have had an opportunity to reflect on the women and their needs in regard to their health. I have been absolutely amazed by the number of women that have shown up to participate! One day, in a community within Chacraseca called El Mojon, we had 42 women show up for the exam. Just to be clear, government hospitals and clinics normally don't even offer more than 15 exams a day for women seeking the Pap. The fact that we were able to do a visualization (IVAA) or a Pap exam on 42 women in one day was nothing short of a miracle!
The question is why are these women so eager to come and participate with us and yet the local hospitals and community clinics struggle with getting 20 women a MONTH to complete an exam? Initially, I had thought a key part of this project was offering the exam and treatment at no cost; however, I now understand the bigger reason for such high participation. It boils down to two key items: service & delivery of results.
First of all, many of us understand the situation of the government-run hospitals and clinics. They are over-crowded and under-resourced. The fact is that public hospitals have the responsibility of addressing all issues, and unfortunately the response is usually reactive rather than proactive. When someone is searching for a proactive solution, their priorities are over-shadowed by the reactive work that is being done to literally save a life at that moment. The Lily Project is proactive in its approach...period. We are offering exams and treatment to ensure women never have to worry about having cervical cancer. So when women hear about the project and come to us for a proactive solution, we are patiently waiting and ready to deliver the service. Additionally, the service we provide is truly more than an exam or treatment; we are listening, teaching and counseling. We believe our purpose transcends traditional service by truly delivering care for the women and their well-being.
While I believe the quality of service has been a critical factor in the increased participation, most importantly for the women it has been the promise to deliver the results. I've talked about it before, and I understand now more than ever: the system of results in regard to women's health in Nicaragua is broken. You may or may not know, my background is in bio-analysis. As a bionalyst, I pride myself on the results that are delivered. Accurate, timely results are the key in my industry to ensure the health of a patient. Unfortunately, the traditional system women must use if The Lily Project is not available cannot provide accurate OR timely results. More than anything, this has led to the epidemic in my country of cervical cancer. Proper tools are not being used to take samples, and the deliver of results take up to 3 months. I'm proud to say that The Lily Project has created a system that utilizes techniques such as visualization (VIAA) and specific methodology with the Pap that ensures results are timely (no more than 48 hrs) and accurate.
The fact is when we walk into a new community and talk about The Lily Project, the service and the delivery of results, we now have an abundant turnout of participants eager to take the exam. I believe women want to stay healthy and stay happy for themselves and for their families. We just need to work together to make it happen!
My name is Silvia Fuentes, and I'm a survivor of cervical cancer. When they diagnosed me with the disease in May 2014, I had not been working and I had no medical insurance. My family and I had two options: take the treatment that was offered through the national health system or pay for treatment privately.
We decided to go with the first option. I remember I was so afraid. I did not realize that I would have to wait so much time to be attended to when I arrived to start the treatment. I had heard that fighting cancer in the national health system was like trying to survive against all odds. I was referred to Bertha Calderon, the hospital in Managua that treats cancer in women. There I met many other women from around Nicaragua also fighting to stay alive. With these other women, I waited many days going through various exams and appointments with doctors. Every woman had a different story to tell. Some of the women were fortunate and had detected the cancer early, but others were in advanced stages. However, one thing we all had in common: we had not had a regular Pap exam. Some for shame of the exam process and others because they just didn't like visiting the gynecologist, others because they didn't think the exam was important, and others because they lived in rural communities where the exam was not available. It was hard to identify with the ladies in the rural communities that did not have access because I lived in the city where I had all the resources, public & private, and I still did not take advantage of them. This made me sad as I realized how I had an opportunity that many women in my country do not.
While waiting for treatment in Bertha Calderon, I submitted a request to be transferred to a better hospital based upon my previous job and the payments I was making to the social medicine at that time. The request was approved in June, and I started a better treatment program in a different hospital. God gave me an opportunity through this change as the treatment was much better, and I promised Him I would repay it by helping other women in similar situations. I was determined to encourage other ladies to be strong and courageous in light of the circumstances and fight the disease with the treatment available.
In 2015, I was declared free of the cancer, and I began looking for opportunities to fulfill my promise to God. Through social media, I found out about a new program focused on delivering health services to women in rural communities in Nicaragua called the Lily Project. The Lily Project Team was working with the health ministry, local leaders and established organizations to deliver their services to areas that were difficult to reach. I still remember how excited I was when I reached out to Lily, and I explained I wanted to be a part of the work and help the women in need.
This is how I came to The Lily Project; a cause I'm so passionate about, my cause! The times that I've participated with the Lily Team in the communities, I've truly enjoyed being with the women and helping them realize the value of having a regular Pap exam. I talk with them, share my story, and I listen to them. I emphasize that this is for their health and for the love of their family.
In these moments as I see the work of The Lily Project through the pictures on the website or via social media, I see moms and grandmothers arriving with their daughters and granddaughters, I see kids playing while their moms, aunts and sisters are examined, and I feel life. I feel love. I give God thanks for giving me a second chance at life, and I choose to live it to the fullest!