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Manuela: Overcoming Cancer

Manuela: Overcoming Cancer

“It was not an easy decision to take a test like this. But thanks to the [education] trainings in the Trust Bank, I realized how important it is to my well-being and that of my family.” Manuela talks candidly about her decision to prioritize her health, sharing openly about her experience being diagnosed with and treated for cervical cancer through Friendship Bridge’s health program.

At 56-years-old, Manuela has 9 children and 26 grandchildren. She had a Pap smear six years ago as part of a government health program, but never received the results – a typical experience for a Guatemalan woman. Manuela said that through the education sessions at her Trust Bank’s monthly meetings, she realized she should have a Pap test at the mobile health clinic. “Since I have been a client for about 10 years, I knew Friendship Bridge would not lie about my results.”

Just a few weeks after meeting with the Health for Life nurse, Manuela received the results:  she had cervical cancer. “When I heard the word ‘cancer,’ it was like having a bucket of cold water thrown over me. Thoughts raced through my mind about my family, my children, and the cost of the treatment. I calmed down when [the nurse] told me they would support me in every way they could and there would be a solution.”

Manuela said the follow-up treatment process happened very quickly, and she had support from our health partner’s complex care program. She underwent a hysterectomy and today is cancer-free.

“I want to continue living to enjoy my children and 26 grandchildren, with a 27th about to be born. I am so very grateful to Friendship Bridge for creating this program because it has helped me in so many ways besides receiving a loan. What good is having a super business if I don’t have good health? The experience has taught me how very important it is to share information with my seven daughters who went through the process with me. I am encouraging them to visit the doctor too. I am also sharing my experience with my friends in my Trust Bank. My neighborhood is quite small, so I am sharing with my neighbors too!”

Manuela’s daughter Marta has also learned to prioritize her health through watching her mother throughout this process. “Now more than ever, we understand how important it is for her to continue to participate with an organization that is innovative and not only seeks to help women economically, but also intellectually and to live healthy lives,” her daughter said. “My entire family is very grateful for the support and encouragement that she experienced during the treatment process.”