Hilda Merachavez, a breast cancer survivor, is grateful that she was able to give her blessing at her daughter Diana’s August 11th wedding. Diana Medrano is a pre-diagnostic patient navigator at Overlook Breast Center in Summit. She is part of the Center’s Breast Cancer Continuum of Care for Underserved African-American & Hispanic Women, which supports at-risk women in our communities with pre-diagnostic navigation and access to free screening and diagnostic tests. This life-saving program is funded by Komen North Jersey.
Last year, when Hilda returned to the U.S. from her native country Ecuador in anticipation of Diana’s wedding, Diana learned that her 63-year-old mother had never had a mammogram, and insisted she have one. “In Ecuador, they don’t do this,” says Hilda. “Over there they believe that you only need to get a mammogram if there is something wrong. Like if you feel a lump, or there is pain.”
The results of her mammogram indicated there was a strong possibility of breast cancer. Hilda had no insurance, and needed further evaluation. Komen North Jersey’s grant covered the two biopsies and MRI that were required. Hilda was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy, followed by radiation that ended on September 24th and her prognosis is very good. Hilda says she was in disbelief when she found out that Komen North Jersey’s grant would cover her tests. She told us that the screening mammograms and clinical breast exams that are considered routine here, are unheard of for most people in Ecuador. Hilda hopes to change that—since her diagnosis, she has been calling all her friends in Ecuador and encouraging them to get screened.
“There is so much giving here. Everyone who helped me is an angel; they gave me my life back.
This year, 49 women, including Hilda, have been able to access the care they needed through the Komen-funded Overlook program. Many had multiple exams; four were diagnosed with breast cancer. The Overlook grant is just one of many we support that are making an impact on removing barriers to care.
Since 1997, Komen North Jersey has directed more than $19 million to local community programs that are saving lives, right here. Hilda and Diana aren’t giving up, and neither are we. Help us meet our goal to reduce breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by half by 2026.
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