Ruth Portillo, Breast Cancer Survivor
For many people, accessing healthcare services can be a stressful experience and for non-English speakers it can be even more daunting. But Ruth Portillo, who speaks only Spanish, says she never misses an opportunity to tell her family and friends that attending one of the Cancer Center’s free breast cancer screenings was a convenient, life-saving experience for her. And that they should be screened, too.
Ruth’s journey began after noticing an inflamed area on her breast. As a woman who is a wife and mother and works outside the home, she had many people counting on her, so she signed up for an after-hours screening to figure out what was happening with her body. A Spanish translator helped her communicate with the physician and articulate her symptoms. And while she did, unfortunately, receive a cancer diagnosis, she said that she was guided every step of the way from that initial screening through treatment.
“When you don’t speak English, you’re always fearful language will be a barrier to your care but that was not the case,” said Ruth. “Now, I tell people to not be afraid and take advantage of the Cancer Center’s free screening services; they will be with you every step of the way. They saved my life.”
From the moment of diagnosis, patients at the Cancer Center are treated as survivors. And Ruth said that for her there was no other option but then to fight the disease with all her might. She has completed the initial stages of her treatment and will soon have surgery, but her focus is on the future.
“I thank God, my family and my doctors. And I’m looking forward to a long, happy life with those I love.”