WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — STRIDE Community Health Center, a Colorado nonprofit that provides healthcare to uninsured and underinsured families, is urging women of color to get breast cancer screenings.
Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer compared to white women, despite having lower breast cancer incidence rates, according to the American Cancer Society. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation said Hispanic women and Latinas are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age and with more aggressive disease.
In February 2022, Daniela Rasgado, 37, felt a lump on her breast while she was taking a shower. She contacted STRIDE, and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
"When she came, she was Stage 3. It was starting to invade her lungs and makes its way to other parts,” said a translator speaking on Rasgado's behalf.
Rasgado went through chemotherapy, but the cancer came back six months later.
"She had 36 radiation therapies. She also had surgery in her breast,” said the translator on behalf of Rasgado. “She's still going on treatments getting her PET scans done, MRIs.”
Rebecca Heck, a certified nurse midwife with STRIDE, said Rasgado is lucky since her cancer was found before things progressed even more. But that's not the case for everyone.
“About 90 percent of those patients that we are seeing with concerning mammograms are Hispanic. And about nine percent of our patients with concerning mammograms are Black or African American,” said Heck.
Many of those women are between 30 and 50 years old.
"I think with, most unfortunately, illnesses, cancers, the Hispanic population has been underserved,” said Heck.
Heck said many of the Hispanic women she sees have not received mammograms in their lifetime, and this is their first introduction to healthcare.
"They may be nervous due to their immigration status. It may be different in the country where they came from. It may not be a priority,” said Heck.
Heck said the lack of access to health care is why it's so important for women of color to get a mammogram at age 40 or sooner if you have a family history of breast cancer. Rasgado said getting screened saved her life.
"She's saying it's very important for every woman to get checked. She feels very fortunate," sid the translator on behalf of Rasgado. "She's very happy to have a long life ahead of her.”
Stride Community Health Center participates in various community health events to get the word out about the importance of breast cancer screenings. To learn more, click here.