Personal Stories, Global
By: Tauane Cruz, MBA
Sr. Manager, Global Programs
When asked, I’m always proud to answer that I work for Susan G. Komen supporting our vision of a world without breast cancer. Recently, I was the one asking the question to a young lady I met in Mexico City by the name of Natyeli Gomes.
This bright and vibrant young woman, born and raised in Mexico City, shared with me her dreams of owning her own Japanese food restaurant where she could develop innovative ways of serving sushi. Until she can make this dream a reality, Natyeli thrives as a Sales Executive for Branded Restaurants in hopes that what she does today will prepare her for the future.
Natyeli is also one of thousands of women living with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) in Mexico.
On September 27, colleagues from Komen’s global team and I led an eight-hour event entitled, “Metastatic Breast Cancer in Mexico: Public Policies and Access to Treatment” at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The event, funded by Pfizer, Inc., focused on generating discussion about metastatic breast cancer and access to services for metastatic patients in Mexico.
We gathered a group of 37 leaders and respected health professionals to discuss and collectively determine how to improve the lives of those confronting the unique challenges of living with metastatic disease. Natyeli was chosen to represent the patient voice on a discussion panel about patients living with MBC in Mexico.
As we talked, I listened closely to how she mapped out her weekly schedule – how, despite scheduling an appointment, she still had to rush to the hospital in the morning to get a place in line for chemotherapy. She shared how her compromised immune system made her feel immobilized in some ways, and that, despite her employer being understanding and supportive of her situation, she would have preferred to be able to work part-time while under treatment to help offset the costs of medicines, transportation, and other expenses.
While on the discussion panel, Natyeli described the many hurdles metastatic breast cancer patients must overcome to obtain adequate treatment. She also expressed her commitment to improving the patient journey for others with the disease.
Several experts in the field, including Dr. Juan Enrique Bargallo Rocha, Chief of the Breast Tumor Department of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Mario Gomez Zepeda, Director of the Women’s Cancer Division of the National Center for Gender Equity and Reproductive Health of Mexico’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Ivonne Mejia Rodriguez, Coordinator of Medical Programs for the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), and Lic. Bertha Aguilar, President of CIMAB, among others, spoke on clinical and societal aspects of living with the disease in Mexico, highlighting things like limitations in access to certain treatments and how this affects the long-term management of the disease. The full report from the meeting can be found here.
“It was important to know more about the topic, to understand more thoroughly how policies regarding treatment are affecting patients in Mexico. This discussion reaffirms the importance of saving lives by improving access to services, and diversifying treatment options for those in need,” said Natyeli. “I felt connected and involved in a discussion where people didn’t just see me as another metastatic patient, but invited me to speak passionately about my situation.”
That day, the audience of officials of the Ministry of Health in Mexico, leaders of NGOs, and clinicians learned from one of Mexico’s over 20,000 breast cancer warriors that what they do is live, hope and fight for a better tomorrow. Natyeli showed us that your job is more than what you do to earn a paycheck; it’s how you inspire change through your actions.
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