ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Jan. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — The Central New Mexico Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® recently printed and began distributing Breast Self-Awareness / Breast Self-Exam (BSA/BSE) shower cards in Navajo to members of the Navajo Nation. This marks the first time any Komen material has been made available in a Native American language, according to Susan Simons, Executive Director of the Affiliate.

“So much of our health information is in so many languages, such as English, Spanish, French,” Simons said. “But there is none in a Native American language.”

The Con Alma Health Foundation awarded the Central New Mexico Affiliate with a $5,000 grant to spend on the translation, printing and distribution costs associated with the BSA/BSE cards to increase breast health awareness among the Navajo-speaking population. Martha Austin-Garrison, Faculty in the Center for Dine Studies at Dine College, took the lead on translating the cards, with support from a number of medical and public health professionals within the Navajo Nation. This group also recently finished the first edition of the Glossary For Basic Cancer Terminology in the Navajo Language, produced in association with the Mayo Clinic and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer, produced by the American Cancer Society (ACS), which were the inspiration for the translation of the Susan G. Komen breast health materials.

According to Edward R. Garrison, PhD, MPH, a faculty member at Dine College and the project’s leader, the ACS guide with the Navajo translation and pictures of Native Americans resulted in such a positive reaction within the Native American community, everyone is hoping for the same reception from each subsequent translated health awareness guide.

“All the indications are that they are going to be very well received,” Garrison said of the BSA/BSE cards. Even though members of other tribes may not be able to read Navajo, “It demonstrates that they really care about Native Americans.”

Garrison estimates about 200,000 Navajo people live within the more than 27,000 square miles that make up the Navajo Nation, which extends into portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Since 1983, cancer has been the third-leading cause of death of the Navajo people, behind accidents/injuries and heart disease. Of those diagnosed with cancer, breast cancer is the leading type of cancer for the Navajo Nation, with 571 cases diagnosed between 1970 and 2010. Despite the low incidence rate overall, Garrison said mortality rate is a special concern.

“The survival rate of all Native Americans diagnosed with cancer is lower than for any other racial group in this country,” he said. “By the time (breast cancer) is diagnosed, it’s usually much more advanced.” And, he added, by then it’s often too late to bring the cancer into remission.

According to Garrison, a cultural value of modesty results in lower prevalence of self-exams and mammograms, two screening methods that are traditionally cited as the best ways to detect breast cancer early enough to increase survival rates.

“We’re hoping this shower card that is in Navajo will help with this sensitive cultural issue,” he explained.

Following the distribution of the 5,000 BSA/BSE cards to the Navajo-speaking community, Simons said she is eager to find funding to pay for the printing of the next two pamphlets distributed through Susan G. Komen: Men Can Get Breast Cancer and Young Women Talk About Breast Cancer. Another card, this one about mammography, is almost ready for printing and should be available this spring.

BSA/BSE shower cards are being distributed through the Navajo Area Indian Health Service and through several health education and outreach programs of the Navajo Nation Division of Health.

About the Central New Mexico Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

The Central New Mexico Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® is dedicated to combating breast cancer at every front. Up to 75 percent of the Affiliate’s net income goes toward funding grants to local hospitals and community organizations that provide breast health education and breast cancer screening and treatment programs for medically underserved women. The remaining net income (a minimum of 25 percent) supports the national Komen Grants Program, which funds groundbreaking breast cancer research, meritorious awards and educational and scientific programs around the world.

The Affiliate’s services area covers all of Bernalillo, Los Alamos, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Torrance and Valencia counties. Thanks to the thousands of people who participant in the Susan G. Komen Central New Mexico Race for the Cure® and other Affiliate events each year, dedicated corporate partners and generous donors, Komen Central New Mexico is playing a vital role in fighting breast cancer in our community. Please visit http://www.komencnm.org for more information.

Contact:
Susan Simons
Executive Director
Susan G. Komen for the Cure New Mexico Affiliate
(505) 265-4649
komeninfo@lobo.net
Ed Garrison
Dine College
(505) 368-3583
ergarrison@dinecollege.edu
Media Contact: susan simons CNM Susan G. Komen for the Cure, 505-265-4649, cnmed@lobo.net

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