|Sylvia braces to pass through these doors into a chance at a better life.|
Amanda’s sister persuaded her to tag along to a WINGS clinic in their community near Patzun. Despite being sexually active since marrying six years ago, 27-year old Amanda had never thought to get a cervical cancer test. At the WINGS’ mobile clinic she listened to a short talk explaining what cervical cancer is, risk factors, symptoms, and treatment and decided to get tested. She was pleased that the Via/Cryo techniques WINGS uses produce immediate results and same-day treatment if necessary. As this was all very new to her, Amanda was utterly shocked to learn that she had pre-cancerous cells. Our nurse and educator, Flori, explained the need for urgent treatment and Amanda opted for cryotherapy to tackle the cancer that very afternoon. This treatment has a success rate of 85-90% and Amanda’s experience was no exception. She is now healthy and plans to attend regular checkups in the future with her sister.
WINGS’ Nurse Flori (who treated Amanda) commented that, “for numerous economic and cultural reasons it can be hard to get women out of the house and into our mobile clinics. It’s important that they are educated in the risks they face and in how to seek reliable testing and treatment”.
WINGS has been fortunate enough to host numerous, well-qualified volunteers in 2010. Here is what one volunteer, Shelly Cooper, said about working for WINGS’ Cervical Cancer Detection and Treatment Program this summer:
“I couldn’t have spent my summer off from medical school working with a more valuable program than WINGS’ cervical cancer program. After reviewing patient charts and attending clinics, I had the opportunity to talk to many Guatemalan women and hear their amazing stories. Many of the women had never been screened for cervical cancer before. Of those that had previously been screened using a Pap-smear, the majority had never received their results and/or several years had passed since their last screening. In addition to the invaluable preventative medicine component of these clinics, the nurses are also able to detect and begin treating various vaginal infections that same day. Patients may have been suffering for months until the WINGS mobile clinic happens to be in their municipality and distributes the necessary antibiotics. These clinics also provide a unique opportunity for women to comfortably talk with two experienced Guatemalan nurses about family planning, OBGYN issues or just basic female anatomy! The WINGS cervical cancer program is truly a successful and effective program.”
WINGS’ cervical cancer program has been very successful so far this summer, and the summer is not over yet! In July alone, WINGS nurses screened 263 women for cervical cancer. Of these women, 97% were screened for the first time ever. These clinics likely saved the lives of three women who were found to have early signs of cervical cancer. WINGS’ staff was able to successfully treat two of these women with cryotherapy on the same day. The third, who showed signs of more advanced cancer, was referred to the National Cancer Institute, where WINGS will subsidize the cost of all follow-up treatment needed to help save her life.
WINGS is very grateful for the help of its volunteers and donors who help make these life-saving services available to underserved women in Guatemala.