SALT LAKE CITY – When Ana Dant, 54, immigrated to the United States in 1993, it was “like another world”.
She describes the cultures of Mexico City and the United States as being very different, but said that “it was a good position to come” with “a lot of opportunity”.
But Dant’s background made it harder for her to access some of these opportunities when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. She pointed out that her language skills and lack of confidence were barriers she faced. was facing to access the health care system.
These obstacles are not uncommon among Hispanic and Latin American populations. Sara Carbajal, director of health programs for Alliance Community Services, said she regularly sees barriers such as language, transportation, lack of insurance and lack of education among the population.
From 2011 to 2013, Hispanic and Latin American populations had the state’s highest age-adjusted health insurance non-coverage rates, at 32.7 percent, according to the Department of Health. ‘Utah. research, That same study showed that the Hispanic and Latin American population said they couldn’t afford the cost of health care at the state’s highest rate at 27.7%.
Alliance Community Services is a non-profit organization that attempts to bridge this gap by addressing the disparities in health care faced by marginalized groups. The non-profit organization provides community services, promotes cultural awareness, advocacy and communication on barriers facing the community.
Part of these community services include partnering with organizations such as the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Medical Center, to provide free mammograms or to help people enroll in insurance programs that they are eligible.
Dant is one of some 500 Latin women who benefit from these services.
“There were barriers. Fortunately, the hospital was good for me. It helped me find financial support,” she said.
In addition to financial support, Dant found a community of survivors in the Alliance. Trifundoras support group. The support group is dedicated to Hispanic women with breast cancer, their families and caregivers.
“It’s nice to have a group and all the people who work there are great people. I am lucky to be in this group, ”she said.
Dant added that even when the women go into remission, they continue to attend the group to show their continued support for the women on treatment.
“This is how we like to serve the community. We love to be there to empower individuals, empower women especially through education and teach them how to navigate the health care system, ”Carbajal said. “Teach them how to use these services so that they can prevent them, so that we can see these breast cancer mortality statistics go down.”
In utahBreast cancer as a cause of death among Hispanic or Latin women worsened from 2005 to 2015. While data shows no disparity and the population is below the national average, the rise can be troubling.
Latin women are really well known for being so resilient. This is a good thing, but it can also have a detrimental effect on their behavior and health practices.
Gabriela Portugal, Head of Cancer Control Programs at Carbajal and The Alliance, agrees that the economic, cultural and social barriers the community faces can be a determining factor in the outcome.
“When a cancer survivor is diagnosed early, survival rates increase dramatically. It’s very different when you have the resources, the time to spend on health care. It makes a huge difference. All of these determinants make a big difference. That’s why we have to push them through the system and help them take responsibility for their own health, ”Portugal said.
Carbajal and Portugal both referred to a culture of “Marianism” and familism as a strength.
Marianism is an idealized traditional female gender role characterized by submissive, altruism, chastity, hyper-femininity, and acceptance of male chauvinism, according to the American Psychological Association. The role of female Marianism in Latin culture emphasizes placing the needs of the family above one’s own, even if this creates personal hardship. Other cultural forces such as familism may refer to the interdependence of the family.
“Latin women are really well known for their resilience. That’s a good thing, but it can also have a detrimental effect on their behavior and health practices,” Carbajal said. “We fight a lot of these beliefs that our women have that everyone comes first except them.”
Part of this fight takes place on the track.
Dant and his fellow Trifundoras Support Group members were recently honored at the premiere of the Utah Latin Runway. The women were dressed in black with scarves floating in their hair or on their necks, as they walked arm in arm.
The scarves were specially designed for women and the event, with the proceeds of scarf purchases going directly to the Trifundoras Group. The Trifundora section of the show highlighted the partnership between Alliance Community Services and Utah Latin Runway.
“It is close to my heart. I think I didn’t choose them, I think God put us together,” said Andrea Zambrano, co-producer of Utah Latin Runway and member of the Latina Social Club. “It’s beautiful that things have come together like a puzzle.”
The cause resonated with Zambrano after her first husband died from cancer in Colombia.
“I can understand the fight. How friends, family and support are most important, ”she said.
Zambrano helped host the show as a member of the Latina Social Club. The social club is made up of Latin women who focus on fashion and who have immigrated from six different countries.
The premiere of Utah Latin Runway was Utah’s first event of its kind highlighting Latino culture. The show featured only Latino designers, artists, models and photographers.
“I felt like Latin fashion culture was lacking here and that’s why I started Colombian Marketplace,” Zambrano said.
“Over the years, I have attended two different events, which were not at all Latin. I thought to myself: ‘If no one has this space to give the opportunity to the Latin community, to have the opportunity to show their things, I think I’ll just direct that. ‘”
Zambrano called the Latin bloggers and influencers she had worked with through Colombian Marketplace. The women’s group created the Latina Social Club and began to develop the community. After the COVID-19 pandemic, Zambrano said she knew the community needed something else and the group decided to hold a Latin-focused fashion show.
“This is how the Utah Latin track came into being,” said Zambrano.
Utah Latin Runway reflected the space Zambrano dreamed of when she moved to the United States, with influences from the Latin community shining through in the designs. Some designers showed a flair for drama, the designs reminiscent of Latin dancers, others reflected the vivid and rich colors seen in Latin America.
But more than that, the space reflected a sense of community and family. It reflected the resilience of the population and of Latin women like Dant.
“The Hispanic population has challenges, it’s true, but I think with efforts like this we are taking a small step forward,” Portugal said.