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West Side Staff Member Recognized at Vikings' Game (Sep. 25th, 2010)

Congratulations Julissa Rios, Breast and Cervical Cancer Program Case Manager/Outreach Worker at La Clinica, on being named a U.S Bank Hometown Hero. Julissa will be honored at the Vikings home game during the pre-game kick off on Sunday, September 26th.

Julissa has worked at West Side for over 10 years as a Case Manager and Outreach Worker in La Clinica’s Breast Health Program. On a daily basis Julissa helps patients wade through the difficult process of getting screened for breast or cervical cancer; dealing with a diagnosis; and the ongoing challenge of continuing care. Julissa also helps run La Nueva Esperanza – believed to be the only support group in Minnesota run by Latina women for other Latina women — and works closely with the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Sage Screening Program to ensure women receive the support and care they need to navigate the health care system. West Side is proud to have Julissa- truly a hometown hero-at the forefront of its Breast Health program.

As Julissa recently told the Minnesota Vikings marketing team, “It’s been a privilege for me to try to help these patients in their journey through cancer. It’s really hard to understand the meaning of having cancer in your own language, but it’s twice as hard to understand it through the voice of an interpreter. There were no support groups for Spanish speaking women. I realized I had to do something to help. Before starting a support group, I had been linking women up with available breast and cervical cancer screening resources, primarily through the Sage Program. Being part of this process made me realize how difficult it is for someone who’s going through this journey cope with the diagnosis. That’s how ‘La Nueva Esperanza Cancer Support Group ‘(The New Hope) started, thanks to the support of the American Cancer Society.”

Julissa went on to explain the details of her group, “We’re now a big group. I have 46 patients with cancer, some of them have completed treatment and others are undergoing treatment. Most don’t speak English and lack transportation to complete their appointments. Many are unable to fill out the paperwork required for them to be tested. Some can’t afford to miss work for an appointment, and some are just too afraid to have the tests done. We try to touch their lives and make the processes better for them. The group gathers together once a month in the clinic community room to talk about diagnoses, treatment options, side effects, and hope. Also, volunteers from the community are invited to educate the group about different topics or clarify questions they have. When we get together we try to support each other. Many times we pray, we laugh, and we cry. But the most important thing is that we have each other. We’re a family that’s loud and happy. We are Latinos.”

Julissa will be participating in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk around Lake Nokomis on October 9th. To join the walk, donate, or find out more information, go to www.cancer.org/stridesonline.

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