Lexington, SC (WLTX)- Cancer is killing more Latinos than anything else in our country, and for Hispanic women, The American Cancer Society says breast cancer is the most common.
If we were to snap a picture of the hardships Latina women face when diagnosed with breast cancer, Sandra Vergara-Duarte would be that picture.
She spent her life serving the Midlands as a West Columbia Police Officer and community liaison, but had to retire when her breast cancer got worse.
As one of the first Latinas in law enforcement, she helped give voice to a community that didn't have one at the time. “I loved my job." said Vergara-Duarte. "I didn’t want to retire. I loved helping people, I loved being there I loved doing all the programs we did to help needy families, I loved that! Right now I miss that."
Right off the bat, she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, and now she's at stage four.
The cancer spread to her lungs, brain and spine. “I had to find out about a secondary cancer after five years of fighting, now there’s no hope,” she said.
She's not alone: the American Cancer Society says Latinas tend to be diagnosed with more advanced cancers than any other groups. They suggest it may be because these ladies don't get mammograms or follow-ups as often as they should for one reason or another.
In the case of Sandra, she had been doing regular tests when she was diagnosed.
That’s why she has this recommendation for other women, “please don’t take no for an answer, if you’re not feeling well continue to go to the doctor, get a second opinion, get a third opinion, get a 100th opinion.”
The good news is that the American Cancer Society also says 88 percent of Latinas diagnosed with breast cancer survive. But the society also found that Latinas are the least likely to receive appropriate and timely breast cancer treatment.