On a routine flight to Los Angeles, Flight Attendant Venus Ginés slipped and fell on the airplane prompting an immediate need for medical attention. At the ER, the doctor casually asked if she had her mammogram yet. Upon hearing a "No, I'm Latina, we Latinas dont get breast cancer," he explained that cancer did not discriminate and offered to do a clinical breast exam. To her shock, he found a lump.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Venus decided to focus her graduate research on cancer in Latinas. She discovered both a paucity of statistical data as well as limited ethnic-specific cancer health education material. In 1996, Venus developed a culturally specific video/picture book on breast cancer (Una Nueva Esperanza) and later (Hombre Sin Límite) on prostate cancer for American Cancer Society (ACS). A culturally-specific "health fiesta" was the only way to determine if the picture books adequately addressed some of the fears and barriers of this population-at-risk. Dia de la Mujer Latina (DML) became a reality when Venus together with the Mexican Consulate's office, assessed, planned, coordinated, collaborated and implemented the first non-traditional culturally relevant Latino family health fiesta. This process involved a community-wide collaboration of Latino clubs, private and non-profit organizations, state and county health departments, community merchants, media, volunteers and other healthcare providers to provide early detection and screening for breast/cervical/prostate cancer, HIV, Diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases and more importantly, patient navigation. Día de la Mujer Latina, Inc. is a non-profit (501©3) organization.
Since May 10, 1997, more than 84,000 Latinas have registered at our 1-day health fiesta w/over 80% receiving early detection screening. Venus is an Instructor at Baylor College of Medicine, teaching cultural competence and health literacy to medical students, in addition to conducting research on medical mistrust. DML was approved by the state of Texas to train and certify Promotores/Community Health Workers and Instructors in 2009 and in 2010, was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama for her community work in cancer. This multicultural intervention project is currently recognized as a national best practice and being replicated in 39 states, as well as Puerto Rico and in 2013 - Dominican Republic and Mexico. La lucha continua...