The SHARE Ambassador program, which reaches out to underserved communities, is expanding! SHARE Ambassadors are breast and ovarian cancer survivors who visit churches, health fairs, and community organizations with information about these diseases. Last year, they reached 14,000 people. Now, ambassadors are also working at Caribbean and Latin American consulates, which reach hundreds of people every day, to offer information on breast and ovarian cancers.
Sandra Morales, an Ambassador for LatinaSHARE, has provided services at the Colombian and Honduran consulates. Latin American communities in New York, particularly recent immigrants, frequently lack access to both quality healthcare services and basic health information-- like the symptoms of ovarian and breast cancers. As an ambassador, Sandra brings SHARE materials to consulate waiting rooms, where dozens of Latin American people are waiting, sometimes for extended periods of time, for various services.
This setting allows Sandra to deliver SHARE materials and give short presentations that spark conversation in a relaxed, personal way. "People are so receptive; they really care about this information. If I start talking to one person, other people get excited and join in," she explains. The information SHARE ambassadors provide is much needed. "Women were shocked to hear that pap smears can't detect ovarian cancer, and men were shocked to hear that breast cancer affects men, too-- and sometimes aggressively."
Sandra notes that distributing materials at consulates allows her to reach a large number of people in one setting in an especially rich, interactive way. At her last trip to a consulate, Sandra engaged and distributed SHARE materials to over 50 people, a mixture of both men and women.
Through the consulate program, ambassador services have provided necessary resources on low-cost and free health services and medical information to Latino and Afro-Caribbean populations. Breast and ovarian cancers disproportionately affect the Black community in the U.S.-- a grim reality that has garnered more attention this year from publications like Forbes Magazine and The New York Times. Latinas face language and cultural barriers in getting access to care, including a reluctance to prioritize their own health and widespread myths about the diseases. But SHARE outreach staff has noted that ambassadors are pushing back against the cultural taboos that hold women back from seeking help, in part by holding candid conversations on difficult issues like doctor-patient communication and self-care.