A personal memoir by Jeri Royce, President & CEO
As you may already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What you may not know is that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, and that one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Staggering statistics to say the least.
Over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today, and I am one of those survivors. My story is like many others – no family history and have never had an abnormal mammogram… until November 2017. Risk factors? I was female and over 50. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones, though. My cancer was detected early due to regular screenings, quality and accessible healthcare, and received the treatment I needed in a timely manner. Today I am, for all intents and purposes, “cured” and taking medication to reduce my chances of reoccurrence.
As President & CEO of Esperança, I am aware of how many women are living in the communities where we serve whose stories do not have happy endings. Right here in Phoenix, as well as Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, and Mozambique there are women who don’t have means or access to receive routine screenings, resulting in late-stage cancer diagnoses with little to no hope of a cure. And if they are lucky enough to be diagnosed early, they do not have access or means to adequate treatment.
Esperança’s mission is to improve health and provide hope for families in the poorest communities of the world through sustainable disease prevention, education and treatment. I have a personal connection to our mission through my own life experience, including my recent encounter with a serious health issue, but it’s really much more than that. Improving health and providing hope in the poorest communities of the world is a calling and the right thing to do. As Muhammad Ali once said, “Service to others I the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
Breast Cancer Awareness Month gathers attention around one particular disease, but there are so many more health-related issues around the world that need our attention, and people who need our help. We can’t fix it all, but we at Esperança will continue to show up every day and make a difference to as many as we can!