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7 Women Talk About Being Proactive About Their Breast Health

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month FIERCE‘s editorial team is doing a deep dive into how Latinx women make strides to be proactive about their breast health. It’s a scope that is of particular interest to us considering that when it comes to the women of our community, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer and the greatest threat to our health in terms of cancer death. While non-Hispanic white women are more likely to become aware of breast cancer occurrence in its early stages, Latinas are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages. For many of us,  proper health care resources and education can literally mean the difference between an early diagnosis and death.

To gather a better understanding of the scale at which Latinas take charge of their health and breasts, women from our FIERCE team shared their own experiences and attitudes about their breasts.

The Latina who still has to learn.

headhousesalon / Instagram

“To be completely honest, I haven’t done anything for my breast health. I have to admit this is completely careless and crazy of me. Seeing all these cases of breast cancer in all of these women [that I see online and Instagram] and this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in general, is a reminder that I cannot just act like it can’t happen to me. I am going to call my gynecologist today and schedule an appointment to get these girls checked out because they need some care as well. I haven’t had any breast scares, thus far. I’m 25, I need to take my breast health more seriously. I’m even embarrassed to say I haven’t done anything to care for my breasts and make sure everything is ok. That’s going to change.” – Jenny

“I’ve been getting breast exams and pap smears from my gynecologist since I started having my period. My mom was the one who taught me about making sure that I give myself monthly breast exams, which I usually do in the shower. I’m so happy that she taught me this because last year I had a pretty intense scare. I was 25 and started to notice that I was having some odd discharge and swelling and I went to the doctor right away. Being in the exam room was pretty heartbreaking because it was the first time I felt really scared for my reproductive health and breasts. Fortunately, after running a bunch of tests I learned that it was just hormonal but it was pretty scary and I continue to make sure that I keep an eye out for breasts on the regular.”  – Alex

The one with an annual appointment.

nordstromriverside / Instagram

“My doctor does me a breast exam at my annual visit, and he taught me how to do a self-exam at home. I think that knowing what your breasts look and feel like can help you recognize when something is suddenly different. And it’s always a good idea to be aware of my body and let my doctor know if I notice any changes.” – Yami

“I check my chichis every once in a while. I probably don’t do it as often as I should, but I recall an instance when I was younger and I saw a pamphlet of how important it is to check yourself often. I don’t know why it stuck with me since but it has and I try to check every time I remember. I do the whole raising my arm thing and feeling around for any lumps or abnormalities that weren’t there before, and I look at my skin to make sure I dont have a change in textures or appearance since I know that is also an indicator. My grand aunt passed away from cancer a few years ago, and it had started out as breast cancer that metastasized before she got her double mastectomy. That’s enough to scare me into being proactive and not waiting for it to happen to me.” – Jess

“One of the things I love most about myself is mi piel. My mom taught me early on that if I don’t take care of myself and body it’ll show a lot sooner than later. As I’m becoming older I still call to ask my mom how to do certain things.My mom has always been adamant about self-care and I’m grateful that she taught me to develop a habit of examining my breasts on a regular basis.” – Victoria

The Latina whose parents don’t believe in modern medicine.

penny.illustration/ Instagram

“I am not a really proactive person when it comes to health, and the main reason why is because my parents don’t really believe in doctors. My mom has never had a gynecological exam and has never checked her boobs. Neither has my grandmother. In my family, I’m the one who is more concerned about health. I try to go to the doctor once a year so they can check everything. My family thinks it is a waste of money, they believe more in the natural medicine.” – Donna

“When I was in high school I discovered a small lump in one of my breasts. For a few years, I brushed it off thinking it was probably just the inside of my nipple. To be completely honest, I ignored this because I didn’t have health insurance and didn’t know so many women’s health clinics existed that offer women well exams for little to no money. Once I landed a steady job out of college, I went to my primary health doctor for a physical that was long overdone. She asked the regular sex questions if anything was abnormal down there or in my breasts. I pointed to the spot where I had felt that quarter-sized bump for several years. She agreed that she felt it, but she wasn’t worried since I was in my twenties. She asked if there was pain or change in size. I said no to both. She said it could be a cyst or fluid or just a different type of breast tissue but to be safe, she had me go to a specialist to have an ultrasound done. The specialist confirmed that it was a pocket of fluid and nothing to be worried about for the time being. It’s comforting to know abnormalities are normal and at least in my experience, no one makes a fuchie face, but rather these vulnerable conversations are encouraged and so are regular check-ups.” – Wendy

Read: 7 Latinas Share Their First Period Stories And They’re Backed With All The Jajajas

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Are You A Victim Of Abuse? Use This Checklist To Help You Determine The Truth

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Are You A Victim Of Abuse? Use This Checklist To Help You Determine The Truth

There are three ways that abuse can be identified. By the way your partner treats you physically, by the way they treat you emotionally, and by how you feel about the relationship. This checklist of twenty signs of abuse is one tool that you can use to see if you, or someone you know, is a victim of abuse. And remember, more resources for dealing with abuse can be found by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233.

1. They have grabbed you and refused to let go.

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This falls into the category of physical abuse. No-one should grab you to make you feel threatened and unsafe. No-one.

2. They have pulled your hair.

Instagram: @theerinblythedavis

This is another form of physical abuse. Sure, a bit of hair pulling in the act of passion is fine. But when it happens as part of an argument, or when your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or make you feel threatened, that is abuse.

3. They have thrown things at you and/or destroyed your belongings.

Instagram: @beatfreak1996

One way your significant other may try to control you is through your belongings. Throwing things at you and destroying your belongings is designed to hurt you physically and emotionally. Threatening to do so also falls under this category of behavior, too.

4. They have left you with bruises, black eyes, bleeding, and/or broken bones.

Instagram: @veeegooose

While abuse doesn’t necessarily have to leave marks on your body, a sure sign of physical abuse in your relationship is when your partner does leave marks. Research shows that once it happens the first time, a “threshold” of sorts has been crossed, and an abuser is more likely to hurt their partner again.

5. They have threatened to hurt or kill you.

Instagram: @raquelitt

It may not seem like abuse, since there are no physical marks left from a threat to hurt or kill you. However, these threats are still part of the arsenal of tools that abusers use. How? Because these threats are designed to control your behavior, and make you feel powerless. Abuse in a relationship is about the abuser gaining and maintaining power, and death threats are a way of emotionally controlling you.

6. They have threatened to take your children away or harm them.

Instagram: @stephaniemaurasanchez

Even if you have children together, children shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Even more importantly, your children’s safety is non-negotiable: no partner of yours should threaten it. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to children. Pets can also be used to manipulate and control you in a relationship.

7. They have forced you to have sex.

Instagram: @jennylikesjewellery

Sex is not a “duty” to be fulfilled in a loving, equal relationship. Nor should your partner guilt trip or manipulate you into participating in sex acts after you have refused sex. Consent needs to be freely given! It doesn’t matter how long the two of you have been together. Otherwise, it’s classed as sexual assault.

8. They try to control you and treat you like a child.

Instagram: @silvia_almanza

Abusive relationships are about control and power. Part of treating you like a child is making you feel like you don’t have any control in the relationship, or even your life, so that you continue to stay and endure the abuse.

9. They make you feel like you need permission to make decisions or go somewhere.

Instagram: @kreeturefeature

This applies when you feel like you have to text at every moment to update your partner about where you are. And when you can’t spend time with friends or family without getting permission from your partner. This is because abusers commonly try to isolate their partner from other, platonic relationships with other people.

10. They try to take complete control of the finances and how you spend money.

Instagram: @loudmouthbruja

Controlling how money is earned and spent is known as financial abuse. People suffering from this type of abuse are commonly denied access to money by partners for doing simple tasks like grocery shopping. Or, sometimes the abuser decides whether and when their partner is allowed to work.

11. They cannot admit to being wrong.

Instagram: @abs_ter

Part of being in a respectful and loving relationship is being able to say sorry and to admit fault. An abusive partner refuses to apologise, because doing so would threaten their position of power in their relationship.

12. They accuse you of things that you know are not true.

Instagram: @estephaniaabarca

This is about control, and manipulating you. After all, if you’re spending your time trying to prove your innocence, then you’re not going to spend your time planning to leave the relationship, are you?

13. They do not take responsibility for their behavior.

Instagram: @lu.pazmi

The reality is, it’s not too much to ask someone to take responsibility for their behavior – even more so when it’s someone you’re in a relationship with. However, your partner doesn’t take responsibility for their behavior because doing so would threaten their position of power in the relationship.

14. They use “The Silent Treatment” to get their way.

Instagram: @yappaririri

Chances are you may have experienced “The Silent Treatment” before, in elementary school. And that’s where that behavior should stay. An equal, loving relationship is not built on one person using silence to manipulate the other person into conceding a point.

15. They make subtle threats or negative remarks about you.

Instagram: @noshophotography

Of course, there’s always room for some friendly sledging in a loving, respectful relationship. But, it turns into abuse when your partner does this on a regular basis to frighten, or control you. It’s possible they may even pass it off as a “joke”, or say that you’re “overreacting”. But again, if you’re in a loving relationship, then your partner should respect the fact that you’re hurt by a “joke”. They should not continue to make these types of comments.

16. You feel scared about how your significant other will act.

Instagram: @erikakardol

Repeat after us: you should have no reason to fear your partner in a loving, respectful relationship. You should have no reason to fear your partner in a loving, respectful relationship.

17. You feel that you can help your partner to change their behavior.

Instagram: @amnesia.r

But, only if you have changed something about yourself first.

18. You watch your behavior carefully so that you do not start a conflict in your relationship.

Instagram: @cmirandads

An abuser does not abuse all of the time. They maintain a cycle of abuse in the relationship. Things go from being tense, where you feel like you have to watch your own actions, to an incident which involves verbal, emotional, financial and physical abuse. Then, your partner attempts reconciliation or denies the abuse occurred, and the relationship goes into a calm stage. However, tensions will begin to build before long, starting the cycle once again.

19. You stay with your partner because you are afraid of what they would do if you broke up.

Instagram: @msstefniv

In other words, you feel trapped in your relationship because of your partner’s current, or potential, behavior. This can range from hurting you, your kids, your pets, your friends, and your family. Or, destroying your belongings, compromising access to your finances, or hurting themselves.

20. They don’t pass “The No Test”

Instagram: @kaitlyn_laurido

“The No Test” is pretty simple. Observe what happens the next time you tell your partner “no”. This could be in response to being asked out on a date, or maybe doing them a simple favor. Disappointment is a normal response to being told “no.”  However, pure outrage, violence, and/or emotional manipulation is not a reasonable response, and may indicate an abusive relationship.

If you feel that you are experiencing an abusive relationship, please seek help. Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233 for assistance. Please take care if you feel that your internet or mobile phone device use is being monitored.

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A Group Of Primarily Female Mexican Scientists Discovered A Potential Cure For HPV

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A Group Of Primarily Female Mexican Scientists Discovered A Potential Cure For HPV

“If you’re having sex, you’ll likely contract HPV at some point in your life.” That is how one gynecologist explained the sexually transmitted diseases to me, which completely freaked me out. Even though human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus contracted through sexual intercourse, it doesn’t make it less scary when you realize that it’s related to 150 viruses and can lead to cancer for both men and women. While there are vaccines available to prevent the spread of HPV to a broader age group than in previous years, we are finally closer to finding a cure.

A group of primarily female Mexican scientists at the National Polytechnic Institute cured their patients of HPV.


The team of researchers, led by Dr. Eva Ramos Gallegos (pictured above), treated 420 patients from Veracruz and Oaxaca, and 29 from Mexico City. They used “photodynamic therapy” which “is a treatment that involves using a drug, called a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent, and a particular type of light to treat different areas of the body” according to their report.

The doctors found extraordinary results through their method of treatment that led to cure 100 percent of the people that had HPV. They also cured 64.3 percent of people infected with HPV that had cancerous cells, and 57.2 percent of people that had cancerous cells without the HPV virus. That last result could mean that a cure for cancer is not far behind.

“Unlike other treatments, it only eliminates damaged cells and does not affect healthy structures. Therefore, it has great potential to decrease the death rate from cervical cancer,” Dr. Gallegos told Radio Guama.

People on social media ecstatically hailed the finding by the Mexicana researchers.

We highly doubt President Trump will ever mention this achievement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has yet to comment on this remarkable finding.

While there’s more testing that will inevitably take place, we will have to wait and see how long it takes for other researchers and scientists to catch on to their method of treatment.

The fact that a woman-led team discovered this cure is something we should all be applauding.

Hopefully, their research will get more funding so they can further test patients and help educate others about their process.

According to the CDC,  79 million Americans, primarily teens and people in the early 20s, are infected with HPV. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer. The way to prevent contracting HPV is by getting the vaccine — available for males and females — and by using condoms. However, you can still contract HPV because HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom – so condoms may not adequately protect against getting HPV.

READ: Here Are A Handful Of Reasons Why We Need To Talk To Latinx Kids About S-E-X

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