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New effort to fight breast cancer

October 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Overall, Asian Americans have the lower incidence of cancer compared to whites, African Americans and Latinos, but it's still the leading cause of death among Asian Americans. And breast cancer appears to hit one group especially hard. A local woman shares the story of her best friend. At 33, Alva Marie Argonza just returned from dream vacation to China when she felt a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer was in it's late stages, she died two years later.

"Before she died she wrote a journal. After she died they found her journal and it said that her true calling in life was to help other people," said friend, Sally Shaw.

Her best friend Sally Shaw felt a great need to raise awareness in the Filipino American community.

"It was really her mission and I just really hope she's really proud," said Shaw.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer hits Asians in the U.S. different. While Japanese American women get breast cancer more often women in the Filipino American community have the highest death rate.

Experts suspect causes such as obesity and lack of exercise, but also a cultural barrier: Many are unwilling to find out.

"They're preparing the meals, cleaning the house, have a job, and the last thing they are thinking of is a screening mammogram," said Dr. Sara Kim. "If they can't take care of themselves and be healthy for themselves first, they won't be able to take care of their families."

Rosemarie Rodriguez was diagnosed with breast cancer last December.

"You have a very high chance of being cured," said Dr. Kim.

She caught hers early through yearly mammogram screening.

"I'm really glad that I did what my doctors told me to do," said Rosemarie.

Sally says Rosemarie's diligence is the celebration of life her friend Alva was talking about. She put together an awareness campaign aimed at all women, but especially Filipino Americans.

"Celebrate life. If you are surrounded by people who love you and you are positive I am sure everything will be fine," said Shaw.

Sally and her staff will be holding a special celebration of life event Sunday, October 5. There you'll be able to get your questions answered about breast cancer screening.

For information about Filipino Breast Cancer Awareness Day call (818) 409-8100.

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Eagle Rock Plaza, Center Court at 2700 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, 90041.

 

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