Patient of Breast Care for Washington – Community Grantee

Komen Survivor IconSylvia is 47 years old, an immigrant from El Salvador who lives in the District of Columbia and is illiterate – she cannot read or write in either Spanish or English and understands only Spanish. Sylvia does not know her family health history since none of her family ever went to the doctor and she did not either until several months ago she noticed a small lump in her breast, which grew quickly to over the size of a silver dollar. At first, because of a lack of understanding, Sylvia did not think it was important. But as the lump grew she sought out help and was referred to Breast Care for Washington by Nueva Vida, one of our community partners.

Breast Care for Washington quickly did a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound on Sylvia with the assistance of Emily Gurdon, our bilingual patient navigator and our radiologist found a high suspicion of cancer. Given this news BCW contacted first one medical facility where we were told there was almost a month wait before Sylvia could be seen. With the quick growth of her mass, we knew that a month was far too long to wait so we contacted a second medical facility where Sylvia could be seen within a week.

Without a committed patient navigator our story could end here – with what we believe would be much different results. However, Breast Care for Washington is committed to our patients and supporting them through the continuum of their care.

Emily arranged to meet Sylvia at her appointment to provide translation for her. When Sylvia did not show up Emily called her, realized she was lost and went to the bus stop to make sure she found her appointment. Emily also convinced the medical staff of the urgency of Sylvia’s case and got them to stay later than usual to make sure Sylvia was seen, despite arriving late because she was lost and could not ask for help to find the facility.

After examining Sylvia and reading her images her doctors did a biopsy in the office instead of waiting to send her to radiology because of the urgency of the situation. Emily stayed right next to her throughout the exam and procedures acting as both navigator and support person because Sylvia was alone. At the conclusion of the exam the doctors told Sylvia that they thought she had cancer – news Emily had to translate.

After giving Sylvia the news that she most likely has breast cancer Emily stayed with her to make sure she was able to handle this. She let Sylvia know what the immediate next steps would be and assured her that no matter what happens we won’t leave her.   Emily will go with Sylvia to get her results and called her over the weekend to make sure she was OK. Emily and Breast Care for Washington will remain Sylvia’s advocate and support system throughout her cancer journey.