By Adam Pope
For the past 15 years, the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in partnership with local organizations, has organized events specific for Latinas to promote breast and cervical cancer screening.
Sowing the Seeds of Health has served more than 4,000 Latinas in six counties in Alabama and continues to demonstrate the need to navigate cultural differences to raise awareness about cancer detection. The adherence to breast and cervical cancer screening among participants is between 85 and 90 percent. This began in 2003 when Isabel Scarinci, Ph.D., professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine, and her team obtained a grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a community-based, culturally relevant educational program for Latinas in Alabama. The result was a successful
evidence-based outreach program that has been maintained with the support of volunteers and partnering organizations.
“I could not have dreamed that we could be able to continue these events year after year and reach new women every year,” said Scarinci, who also serves as associate director of Globalization and Cancer at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This shows the power of partnerships and volunteerism as well as the global footprint of our cancer center in serving the Latino immigrant population in Alabama.”
Recently, a celebration of 15 years of service took place at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, where 85 women attended the event to obtain breast and cervical cancer screening. Annual educational luncheons are held in local churches where a Spanish-speaking health care professional educates participants about breast and cervical cancer, early detection, and screening. Women are also given the opportunity to schedule appointments for low-cost Pap tests, clinical breast exams and mammography screening at local hospitals and clinics via the Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Navigators are then available to assist them with their appointment and follow-up needs.
Organizations supporting the Sowing the Seeds of Health program include Susan G. Komen North Central Alabama Affiliate, Brookwood Baptist Health System, Alabama Regional Medical Services, Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, Huntsville Hospital, and Central North Alabama Health Services.
“We are very thankful to all of our partners who have shared this vision with us, and come together every year to provide the best services we possibly can to these women who otherwise would not have access to breast and cervical screening,” Scarinci said.
Sowing the Seeds of Health was also selected as one of UAB’s 50 Acts of Service. To celebrate UAB’s 50th anniversary, the university is giving back to the city it calls home. UAB schools and divisions across campus are honoring our partnership with the Magic City through acts of community engagement.
To learn more about Sowing the Seeds of Health, please call 205-996-2827.