Making an Impact in Panama
Guest post by Catherine Oliveros, Regional Director of International, Susan G. Komen for the Cure
I write from Panama, where Susan G. Komen President Elizabeth Thompson and I have traveled to meet with our in-country Komen team and with our partners, new and old, who are making a real difference in the lives of women in this country. Later this week we will have some exciting news about how we are going to be able to help three new NGO partners.
Today, though, we got to see firsthand what one of them – Casita de Mausi – is doing to help local women. Casita is a home for cancer patients receiving treatment at the Instituto Oncologico Nacional (ION), their National Cancer Institute. The patients range in age, some as young as 18, and type of cancer diagnosis – breast cancer being common for women, while stomach and prostate are for men. They are often low income and uninsured. Yet all patients and one family companion can expect to receive at least a 3 day stay with a clean comfortable bed, 3 meals a day, social support and lots of love from the staff of the home. These patients travel hours and sometimes days to get care at the ION since they can’t receive treatment anywhere else. The support from Casita enables them to complete their treatment.
While there we did not see patients, as the home in the morning is usually empty for cleaning because patients are usually at the hospital early and new patients usually arrive in the late afternoon, we still had an amazing experience. Walking into the home we immediately got a sense of the peace it provides its residents. We met with the incredible Casita staff and immediately recognized how this happy and warm group could clearly make residents feel comfortable and at “home” during a difficult period of their life. The staff work hard to give hope and provide safety to the people who walk in and out on a daily basis.
Casita continues to dream. On their current wish list is a new stove, because the current one is in danger of burning the place down it is so old and damaged. They also need a car or minivan to help them transport patients, as well as facilitate the process of picking up donations. And of course, they would like to be able to help more people.
About the author
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.