Alex Colon: Founder of LatinaSHARE

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When and how did you get involved with SHARE?

I was first diagnosed in 1980. At that time, I belonged to DC 37, which was a union of mostly New York City teachers. Many of SHARE's original women were DC 37 women as well, and I learned about the organization from them.

In what ways have you been involved with SHARE?

I started by going to the support groups, which were run by Dr. Thiesen. I worked for a city hospital, so I knew there were other women out there who needed support. I began talking with one of my friends in the group, Lee Miller, who said that if I got some women together, SHARE would try to find space for another group. So I did. We'd meet in church halls, in gyms, anywhere where we could get free-of-charge space.  When SHARE started renting a one-room facility in one of the office buildings on 13th Street or 14th Street, I ran my first group there. I also worked on the helpline.

I ran those groups for 5 years, all over the city. All of them were in Spanish.There was no other organization providing this kind of support in Spanish. At one point, I had three different groups at the same time. Eventually we realized that as we reached more and more Hispanic women, it was becoming too much for me. I got together with Lee and few of the other original women, and we decided to try to get a permanent space for the Spanish groups. We formed a committee and selected Ivis Febus-Sampayo to coordinate all this. That was the official beginning of LatinaSHARE; it was around 1992. Even then, I continued to do my support groups, but Ivis coordinated all of the educational programs in Spanish. I was also part of the Latina advisory committee.

How has SHARE helped you?

I was able to go through four rounds of cancer, if not with ease, then at least with good support. I was very lucky. SHARE has done an excellent job, and it's amazing how it's grown. I think back to one of our first meetings in a church cafeteria, when people were frantic, wanting to try things we know now don't work, and I'm so thankful to God and to SHARE that I can be here 40 years later.

What is your 40th anniversary wish for SHARE?

I wish I could come back as someone younger and get re-involved!