Happy Women’s History Month - and International Women’s Day - from all of us at SHARE! At SHARE, we focus on the needs of women every month, but this March we are delighted to spotlight the history and impact of one of our core programs - LatinaSHARE. Launched nearly three decades ago by Alex Colon, LatinaSHARE has become a vibrant community of thousands of Spanish-speaking women dedicated to providing support, awareness, and hope.
Through a Spanish-language helpline, support groups, education programs, and a robust NYC-based community outreach initiative, LatinaSHARE serves as a model in the field of women’s cancer, bringing help and understanding to women who often have nowhere else to turn. LatinaSHARE’s Senior Director, Jennie Santiago started out as a support group member in 2001. “[I felt] like I needed to do more and realized I wanted to help women with hardly any family support here in the United States, no English language skills, no ability to communicate with their doctors, no health insurance, with little to no comprehension of their cancer diagnosis,” she said.
When the program began in 1994, the Spanish-speaking community in New York lacked a dedicated place to seek cancer information and support in Spanish. LatinaSHARE slowly built programs that sought to fill the unique needs of Spanish-speaking women. This was possible because LatinaSHARE has always been led by Latinas who are themselves cancer survivors. For many years, the program was helmed by retired staff member Ivis Sampayo, who observed “For this to work, the vision needed to fit the community.”
The women of LatinaSHARE continue to make sure they are meeting the needs of Latinas in New York City, across the United States, and around the world. From the acclaimed series of comic book-style Novelas in each of our disease areas, to innovative online education programs on topics from new treatments to nutrition and wellness, LatinaSHARE is helping women face a cancer diagnosis.
In the past year, LatinaSHARE programs have reached more women around the globe than ever before. At one recent webinar, more than 50% of the attendees were from Latin America! As Ms. Sampayo said “Cancer is global, so LatinaSHARE should be too.”