May 27, 2017 03:00 AM PST
SINCE 2007

‘Sisters’ act’ saves lives

By JAMES RUSSELL CAREY

It can be alarming to be diagnosed with breast cancer, or to even suspect that you have it. But some women face outright despair when they encounter obstacles preventing treatment or adequate insurance coverage.



This is where the “Sisters Network” comes in. Gloria Wade, director of the Solano County branch, recounts a very recent story: “I talked to a woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is on medication, but her insurance won’t pay for the pain pad. She said she cries all night. That was heart-jerking. We often receive calls from women who can’t get mammograms, even though they have insurance through ‘Covered California,’ because they must obtain a doctor’s orders first, and all the doctors they approach are not accepting new patients. You can’t get mammograms at emergency rooms. This led to one woman dying, because she got a late diagnosis. This is unacceptable. It’s in situations like these where we come in, to step in on the women’s behalf.”

Sisters Network also has a resource center in Vallejo, where Gloria and her colleagues provide “guidance and advice to women with breast cancer who don’t know how to go about finding help and resources.”

According to Gloria, some women aren’t computer savvy and don’t know how to google things, let alone use Covered California. Some don’t understand what doctors say, she said, especially if they are from another country and don’t speak enough English.

“When we help women of different nationalities and ethnicities, we have understanding of their cultures, which can affect their situations,” she explained to FilAm Star. “Our resource center is a cozy place to visit, and some women like to come in to feel at ease and feel supported. For women in American Canyon and Vacaville, we hold regular support group meetings.”

Gloria is a breast cancer survivor herself. She has had breast cancer three times – first when she was 48, then at 50, and next at 59. She’s now 70. It’s been a long hard fight, she said.
“The first time I thought I just had a mosquito bite, but my husband insisted on a mammogram,” she recalled. “So I owe him my life. I had both breasts removed. I had surgery after surgery. I had chemotherapy. I was blessed, so I will continue to be a voice for women with breast cancer because I’ve worn those shoes. That keeps me grounded.”

How do women find out about the Sisters Network?

“It often starts with a call …from a husband, a relative or a friend, or from a doctor’s office,” she said. “We have brochures in doctors’ offices, hospitals and radiologists’ offices – also in churches and with community groups.”

A lot of people learn about Sisters’ Network by word of mouth, as well through its outreach events. “Since 2004, we have had the ‘Gift Of Life Block Walk,’ when we send out teams in Vallejo, to knock on doors and ask women if they have had mammograms. If they haven’t, we invite them to have a free mammogram the next day,” she said. The Sisters Network of Solano County’s Resource Center is at 301 Georgia Street in Vallejo, Tel. (707) 642-6066. The American Canyon Support Group meets on the second Thursday of every month, 6.30pm-8.30pm, at the Club House, 2525 Flosden Road. The Vacaville Support Group meets on the fourth Thursday of every month, 6.00pm-8.00pm, at the Hampton Inn, 800 Mason Street, Vacaville.