Real Life Heroines: Celebrating Life
©Tara A. Spears
What could be a really sad situation is instead a joyful tribute to the more than 500 brave women from all over Nayarit that come together for this weekend’s annual Cancer de Mama Clinic. Compassion and positive energy flows between the clients and volunteer staff as evidenced by all the smiles and hugs. It takes a strong woman to rise above her personal pain to say ‘gracias’ and enjoy a day with new friends. Many of the clients express appreciation for the clinic service by giving the staff beautiful letters or handmade treats. ( the center photo)
Proof that the La Penita Cancer de Mama is a success is the huge positive response to the event. Women breast cancer survivor travel for hours in order to receive a free prosthesis and modified bras. Each client also receives tit bits: knit fiber-filled boobs that can get wet and therefore are great in this hot, humid climate. In addition, free transportation is arranged and a delicious meal provided as well as coupons to shop in the free store for used clothing. There are games to help fill the wait time between being fitted and the bras being sewn.
Another option for the ladies is to visit the hat shack for a scarf or hat. This is particularly helpful to those who are bald from chemotherapy. Right next to hat shack is the salon La Penita: the women can get a haircut, facial or wig. Now that’s a girly way of de-stressing!
Thanks to 200 Volunteers: The Cancer de Mama Clinic was started by Jackie Jackson. Like so many excellent ideas, the concept of providing after surgery care fulfilled a great need in this Mexican state. Immediately, just by word of mouth among the Mexican medical community, the number of women traveling for help rapidly increased. Fortunately many kind hearted individuals in Jaltemba Bay, primarily seasonal residents, kicked into high gear and went about the time consuming task of finding the stock in Canada and the US and getting it transported here. This first weekend of each February event is a year-long effort of a dedicated executive committee who plans and makes arrangements for all phases of the clinic. An amazing group of department chairs organize the materials and volunteers for operating the clinic. Many local merchants donate food items that become the meal for the clients and volunteers. As the Cancer de Mama Clinic supervisor, Susan Sloan says it best: “To all of the people who give so much, Thank You for your countless hours, your tears, your compassion, your laughter, sore muscles and tired feet! We did a great job and should be proud of ourselves.”