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Nueva Vida seeks to eliminate barriers to cancer treatment for Hispanic women

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Posted at 4:30 PM, Dec 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 17:23:22-05

BALTIMORE — At the start of 2011, life was going well for Cecilia Berman. She was married to the love of her life and they had their one-year-old daughter.

Everything changed in October of that year, when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

"The news was devastating. I didn’t know what it was," Berman said. "I was scared and I didn’t know what cancer meant at that time of my life."

Berman went through several rounds of treatments including chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy. She finished hormone therapy last year, her family by her side every step of the way.

"You need that encouragement, that daily encouragement to feel better."

Berman wanted to share that encouragement with other women going through similar situations. She found Nueva Vida, based in Baltimore and D.C., that provides support and resources to Hispanic women who are diagnosed with cancer.

"I felt empowered to tell other women the hope that they have being a survivor and telling my story so that they know they can do this," she said.

"We love to have our survivors, they can share the stories and they can give help and encourage to our other ladies," said Sandra Villa de León, the Baltimore program coordinator of Nueva Vida.

Nueva Vida's mission is to break down barriers that prevent women from getting the care they need, such as lack of access to transportation, financial problems and language differences.

They also focus on outreach and education, going to places like churches and salons to let women know they're available to help. The group works with hospitals in the area to provide free screenings, like mammograms.

"That is very important for us to get screened because if they feel something, they don’t know where to go," de León said.

The medical care is just one component of the work done by Nueva Vida. They also focus on the emotional and mental well-being of each client who comes to them for help.

"Neuva Vida is a [safe place], where you receive that emotional, financial, psychological [support]," said Berman. "You are a family. You are in this group of women who are fighting for you."

For more information about the services offered by Nueva Vida and how to donate or volunteer, click here.