By Steve Blanchard - May 12, 2022
Gina Lemus is a believer in home remedies. They are a part of her culture, she said. But when warm compresses didn’t relieve the pain and swelling under her arms in 2008, she knew she needed to see a doctor.
It’s a good thing she did. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
“I was 25 and thought I was showing signs of stress,” Lemus said. “In the Hispanic community we use a lot of natural remedies and self-medicate. Sometimes that works, but you also have to know when it’s best to call a doctor.”
That’s why the 39-year-old is promoting “La Ciudad se Viste de Rosa” (The City is Dressed in Pink) at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, presented by Moffitt Cancer Center. The free in-person and streaming event encourages Spanish-speaking women to advocate for their own health and to know what programs and treatments are available to them. To promote women’s health, downtown Tampa will light several structures in pink.
"Some Hispanic women may put themselves and their own health behind the health of their families."- Jeannette Palencia, Senior Community Outreach Worker
“Some Hispanic women may put themselves and their own health behind the health of their families,” said organizer Jeannette Palencia, senior community outreach worker with Moffitt’s Office of Community Outreach, Engagement and Equity. “Plus they have challenges like finding health insurance or even transportation to the doctor.”
Register to Stream the Free Event
Lemus plans to stream the event for her own church near Boston. She wasn’t treated at Moffitt for her breast cancer, but she was treated at the cancer center for ovarian cancer in 2014.
“I was so frustrated, and you don’t want people to have pity on you,” Lemus said of her second diagnosis. “I was fortunate that Moffitt was the place that God sent me for TLC. Moffitt taught me patience, it helped me mature and the doctors there allowed me to ask the questions I needed to ask. I felt loved.”
It was during that treatment when she met Palencia, who she affectionally calls “Mama Bear.” The two began a friendship that continues today and inspired Lemus to register her congregation to participate in “La Ciudad se Viste de Rosa.”
“Mama Bear told me about the Moffitt program “Yo Me Cuido” when I was there, and it was just so impactful and influenced my treatment,” Lemus said. “That and the environment at Moffitt was my safe zone and the cancer center turned into my home away from home. I want other women in my community to know what is available to them.”
Presented in Spanish
Palencia said the inaugural “La Ciudad se Viste de Rosa” is not limited to church groups and congregations. She said all community groups, especially those with a large Spanish-speaking membership, are encouraged to register and participate in the May 21 event.
“You can attend in person or live stream the speakers and information directly to your group for free,” Palencia said. “All you have to do is register and we will bring the information to you in Spanish.”
A lot can often get lost in translation, Lemus said. By presenting important medical information and details on programs in Spanish, Hispanic women are more likely to be motivated to take action for their own health and remain healthy to care for their families.
“I’ve seen events streamed in Spanish and the reaction among our community is incredible to watch,” Lemus said. “It’s a message directly to us and that is more powerful and impactful than you can imagine.”