Rebecca Cueto is a long-time supporter of Friendship Bridge, former employee, and campaigner for this year’s Health for Life Challenge! What makes Rebecca’s campaign so inspiring is that she knows first-hand the importance of having healthcare access. In November of 2017 she was diagnosed with cancer, which then began the fight for her life. She had to quit her job with Friendship Bridge and devote every waking moment to beating her cancer. Now, less than a year later and nearly cancer-free Rebecca is challenging herself to support the Health for Life program for women in Guatemala! We asked Rebecca to share her story with us.
Friendship Bridge: Rebecca, you are battling your own health issues right now. Why have you decided to support the Health for Life program with everything you are dealing with yourself?
Rebecca Cueto: In November 2017, I was diagnosed with acinar cell pancreatic cancer, caught early thanks to a visit to my Primary Care Physician (a.k.a., my Preventive Care Physician). I have been through chemo, radiation, surgery, and more chemo. I’ve had tremendous success (i.e., few or, hopefully, no cancer cells left in my body) thanks to the early diagnosis, plus the dedication, talent, and availability of my healthcare team. I am supporting Friendship Bridge and their Health for Life program because I can’t imagine what my condition would be had I not had access to health services early in the journey. My health goals this month are to be diligent in taking care of myself every day and to do what I can at this stage of the journey, so I’m helping myself while helping Friendship Bridge, too.
FB: How has your view of health changed since facing your own health crisis?
RC: One can do everything they can to be healthy; however, there is no guarantee illness won’t strike. When I was diagnosed, I was in complete disbelief that this could happen. I’d always tried to take good care of myself. I climbed a 14er for last year’s Health for Life campaign! And now this year I’m doing simple physical therapy exercises. It’s quite humbling and can happen to anyone. Therefore, it’s extremely important not to take your health for granted. Yes, do everything you can to stay healthy, but enjoy life too.
FB: What does women’s empowerment mean to you?
RC: I believe it’s vital for both women and men to be able to make their own decisions or at least have a say in what happens in the major areas of their lives, such as healthcare. Men typically have this power; however, women often do not. An empowered women is able to take control of what is going on in her life and have the confidence and authority to make decisions. It is a responsibility that requires education, dedication, and also support from significant others within the family and community who must recognize that women are capable and actually in the best position to make such decisions.
FB: What message would you like to tell other campaigners and supporters of this Health for Life program?
RC: I worked for Friendship Bridge for five years and I know first hand how hard the entire staff works in order to create opportunities that empower the clients. The Health for Life program is highly successful and the clients love it! It helps the women take control of their healthcare through education on health topics and annual visits with a healthcare professional who comes to their village and speaks their language (overcoming two big hurdles for clients trying to access the Guatemalan health system). I am confident the funds raised through this campaign will be effectively spent to expand this highly impactful program to benefit more clients, which in turn helps their families as well. I feel great about donating to the program myself and have not been shy to ask others to do the same.
We want to thank Rebecca for all her incredible dedication to supporting Friendship Bridge and the women in Guatemala, even in the face of such difficult challenges. We wish her the best and many years of happiness and health!
If you would like to donate to Rebecca’s Health for Life campaign you can follow the link below.