Posted by: BPSOS | September 24, 2009

Moving to the Right Direction

Brooke Ha

It was the first time we had a mammogram mobile unit in our Vietnamese community. In the beginning it was challenging for Boat People SOS (BPSOS) in Louisville but in the end it proved yet to be another successful event for us.


Brown Cancer Center’s employee helped participant to go over their insurance information inside the mammogram van. (Photo of BPSOS)

BPSOS-Louisville has been partnering with the Kentucky Cancer Program (KCP) for about a year and a half. As a part of our collaboration, BPSOS-Louisville is responsible for recruiting women for breast health and women’s cancer education programs and screening services and providing interpretation at these events. Normally, we would meet Vietnamese women that we have recruited at or take them to the Family Health Center Americana or locations that are close to the residence of our targeted women for the cancer screening services to accommodate their need and convenience.

Both BPSOS-Louisville and KCP have thought of offering the mobile unit to the Vietnamese community. While the minimum requirement for the number of participants is only 20 which is not hard to obtain in some cases; however, BPSOS staff knew that it was not going to be easy work cutting out for us. This is due to the conception and behavior of Vietnamese women about their health and cancers, it was extremely difficult to change their mindset and promote preventive care. For example: some women entrust their health and life in the divine being while others even though are living with some type of cancers choose not to share or talk about their experiences with closed ones because they are afraid of shame or being shunned upon.

Our set date for the mobile unit at BPSOS was on July 28th, two days after our Amerasians’ concert. For more than two months, BPSOS’ staff recruited women, did outreach, created an ad and placed it on Hom Nay magazine (a local media print), produced flyers and inserted them into our Mach Song newspaper (BPSOS’s media outlet).

Fortunately, Hom Nay magazine decided to generate posters based on our flyer and gave them to us which we posted them at Vietnamese businesses and organizations. On top of that we were planning for the concert to reunite and regroup the Amerasians in Louisville.

The flyers were out long before people from the Louisville community were calling us to schedule for their mammogram. Because we wanted to reserve the 20 slots for our Vietnamese women, regrettably we put the non-Vietnamese women’s information down on the waiting list. As more and more non-Vietnamese women were calling in, we were making progress with our Vietnamese participants. We even had two Vietnamese women on the waiting list.

The Monday before the event, BPSOS called the women on the list to remind them of their mammogram appointment. Much to our anticipation, the day finally arrived. We had two BPSOS staff to assist, direct the participants where to go, and provide interpretation. In addition, we had another interpreter to help us to run the process.

Considering it was our first time to plan for a mobile unit, it was very much fruitful. Everything was running smoothly and our partner, KCP, was surprised by the steadiness of process. We had the total of 19 Vietnamese and 2 non-Vietnamese women that had their screening done that day. Overall, I think our July 28th event is a stepping stone for future mobile units to come in the Vietnamese community. We are moving in the right direction if we continue with this progress.

Hopefully, as more and more screenings are being offered Vietnamese women will alter their knowledge, attitude, and behavior about their health care.

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