By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with one in eight Mexican women getting the disease at some point in their life, it is particularly relevant in this country.
As of yet, there is no cure for breast cancer, but there is treatment, and with the right treatment, many patients can now live a long and fruitful life.
The key to surviving breast cancer is to detect it and treat it early.
But, sadly, more than 40 percent of all breast cancers in Mexico are detected late, once the disease has metastasized and spread to other organs.
“Particularly in the case of metastatic breast cancer, we are facing a race against time,” gynecologic oncologist Gerardo Castorena Roji, head of the ABC Medical Center’s Breast Cancer Early Detection Clinic, told Pulse News Mexico.
He said that, in Mexico, while the five-year survival rate for Stage 1 and Stage 2 are now nearly 100 percent and 98 percent, respectively, in the case of Stage 4 breast cancer, the five-year survival projections drop dramatically.
Breast cancer now accounts for about 30 percent of all the cancers detected in Mexican women, with roughly 100,000 new cases detected each year, according to the national Secretariat of Public Health (SSA).
But Castorena said that, while breast cancer is now one of the country’s biggest health concerns for women, it is important to remember that, with early detection and treatment, a diagnosis of the disease no longer has to be seen as a death sentence.
“Today, even with late detection, which is a serious problem in Mexico, the survival rate is 65 percent,” he said.
“Twenty years ago, the comparable figure was about 30 percent.”
The increased survival rate it thanks to a twofold approach of earlier detection and better treatment.
“The scientific and medical world is doing its part to try to find ways to better treat the disease,” Castorena said, “but in order to beat breast cancer, we need the support of the private and public sectors, and we need women and their families to take an active role in helping us detect breast cancer in its early stages.”
Although most women in Mexico are aware of self-examination techniques and mammograms, the SSA reports that less than 20 percent perform regular monthly exams and even fewer get annual mammograms.
“We need to get the message out to all women, of all ages,” said Castorena.
“Every woman needs to do a monthly self-examination, have a clinic examination from her doctor once a year and, after age 40, get a yearly mammogram (earlier if there is a family history of the disease).”
To help get that message across, throughout the month of October, the Mexican government is bathing major national monuments and buildings in pink light (pink is the official color of breast cancer awareness), and, even in these financially strapped times, many Mexican private-sector companies are doing their part by donating a portion of their proceeds to breast cancer awareness and treatment.
The beauty and fashion industry is no exception.
Here are just a few of the major brands that are pooling resources this month in Mexico in order to help win the war on breast cancer:
Daniel Espinosa, Mexico’s premier jewelry designer, has produced a special line of elegant and minimalist pendants and necklaces titled Pink Pop Love, in pink gold plate and silver.
Available for sale through his website and at boutiques and sales points nationwide, the collection reflects the personal battle that breast cancer patients face.
Each piece is engraved with the images of a tiny heart and the iconic bow that has become symbolic of the fight against breast cancer.
A portion of all sales of the Pink Pop Love line will be donated to the breast cancer volunteer clinic at Mexico City’s esteemed Hospital General.
Jalisco-based handbag design house Clôe has also created a limited edition collection of purses to be sold during the month of October, with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for breast cancer education and awareness programs, as well as for the purchase of wigs and prosthetics for financially underprivileged women.
The revenue generated from the sale of the purses will go to the nonprofit Fundación CIMA, which works directly with breast cancer patients.
For the last two years, Clôe has worked closely with CIMA, providing transportation for low-income patients to get to their treatment sessions and follow-up appointments, and Clôe chief designer Carlos Ruiz Velasco said that the company is now focusing on getting every Mexican woman access to appropriate medical care.
The new CIMA handbags are versatile leatherette satchels with two interior compartments and one exterior compartment for easy organization.
They come with discreet metal clasps, with contrasting details that give the bags a sleek, contemporary style.
Available in both magenta pink and ebony black, the purses are only being sold at Clôe boutiques and through the brand’s website, at a special price of just 2,000 pesos each, while supplies last.
Clôe has 57 boutiques and direct points of sale nationwide, and is sold in more than 360 department stores across Mexico, Chile, El Salvador and Panama.
Meanwhile, the Mexican haircare line Marama has signed on to donate 25 percent of its entire October sales to Cruz Rosa, which provides early diagnostic tests for low-income breast cancer patients, as well as a group home where they and their families can stay while undergoing treatment.
At the same time, Cruz Rosa (Pink Cross) provides nutritional and psychological support to patients, as well as financial assistance to pay for medications and other treatments.
And to help boost sales during October, Marama just introduced a four-product Essentials Kit that includes a daily shampoo, a reparative aloe vera nourishing shampoo, a conditioner and a leave-in root reconstruction treatment.
Used over time, this dynamic Marama quartet works to help stimulate growth, strengthen, soften and leave hair thick, shiny and healthy looking.
All Marama products are chemical-free (no sulfates and no parabens, both ingredients that have been linked to cancer), and are never tested on animals.
Marama is also a fair-trade corporation, which works hand-in-hand with local communities across Mexico for its sourcing.
…Oct. 21, 2020