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On the Town: Cancer survivors celebrate transformation

June 12, 2012|By Ruth Sowby
  • Having a lot to celebrate are cancer survivors, from left, Cecilia Reyes, Mary Wang and Guadalupe Mendoza.
Having a lot to celebrate are cancer survivors, from left,…

TV host Mayte Prida, a Miami transplant from Mexico City, survived four bouts of cancer. For her first cancer diagnosis, third-stage breast cancer, she had no medical insurance. Her father gave her the money to get a second opinion, during which a malignant tumor was discovered growing on one of her kidneys. Her third bout — lung cancer. Her fourth bout — uterine cancer.

In 2010, her 15-year-old daughter was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “Latinos are diagnosed with breast cancer less but die the most,” Prida said. She explained that many Latino men abandon their wives when they are “mutilated by cancer.” For this reason, Prida continued, “Many Latino women would rather die than have a breast removed.” Prida realized that education was necessary and formed a foundation to spread the word that cancer is not an automatic death sentence, and that free medicine is available. She uses Latin celebrities in TV public service announcements to make her message heard. It's working. In the U.S., 6 million cancer patients receive their medications for free.

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Having been through the throes of cancer over and over, Prida was the first choice of speakers by Glendale Adventist Medical Center staffers for their annual Cancer Survivor Day luncheon. On Friday, some 200 cancer survivors and their families gathered at the hospital to celebrate their transformations by cancer.

The luncheon had a fiesta theme, including entertainment by the six-member Mariachi Los Angeles and the always popular canDancers, made up of cancer survivors. Lunch was served buffet-style with the finest of Mexican cuisine.

Once the program started there was no stopping it, and the audience still wanted more. A welcome was given by the hospital's new Chief Executive/President Kevin A. Roberts. He introduced the VIPs present including Glendale Councilwoman Laura Friedman, herself a cancer survivor, and City Councilman Ara Najarian. In brief remarks, Najarian listed his connections to the hospital. His father was a staff orthopedic surgeon at the hospital for 20 years, and his oldest son was born at the hospital. Najarian was also a member of the hospital's “Army of Pink Soldiers” contest in support of breast cancer awareness. The winner by a long shot was Dr. Boris Bagdasarian, the hospital's cancer committee chairman. He was present and spoke of the hospital's just-received Quality Award as the best comprehensive cancer center in Los Angeles.

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