Pictured Left to right: Edelmira Ramos, participant; Josie Mejia, compañera; and Anna María Nápoles, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institute of Health. Photo contributed
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia has revealed the results of its participation in a potentially groundbreaking program and study in breast cancer treatment.
Done in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, the study, Nuevo Amanecer II (new dawn) aimed at improving the lives of Spanish speakers with breast cancer in rural communities. Anna Maria Nápoles, scientific director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, presented the findings last Thursday at Kaweah Delta.
Kaweah Delta was one of three research sites to participate — the others being the Cancer Resource Center of the Desert in El Centro, and WomenCARE, which services Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. As part of Nuevo Amanecer, Spanish-speaking participants undergoing cancer treatment were paired with a “compañera,” a partner to provide information on stress management, survivorship and healthy living. Each compañera is also a trained Latina breast cancer survivor.
Once a week for 10 weeks, participants received tools for improving mood and well-being at home and in Spanish with accompanying videos. These services were offered free of charge.
Kaweah Delta recruited more than 50 participants with non-metastatic breast cancer from Kings and Tulare counties. These patients were then broken into intervention and control groups during a six month period. The intervention group went first, with consultation from their compañera for the initial three months, after which, they went the last three months without. During these last three months, the control group received its compañeras.
“The program changed me because it put me in higher spirits, made me happier and helped me think positive thoughts so I could push forward and fight,” one of the participants said afterwards.
She wasn’t alone. Over the course of the study, it was found that patients being consulted by a compañera saw their stress levels drop and their health improved. Respondents also showed an increased ability to relax with consultation.
“This is a newer trend in research, returning the results of research to the participants, including to subjects of the study,” said Chris Patty, director of research for Kaweah Delta. “An immediate benefit is that Kaweah Delta will learn the best practices for caring for this participation.”
Half of the participants in the Kaweah Delta portion of the study were on Medi-Cal, or were insured.