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Spanish support group helps patients with cancer find community

Platte Valley Medical Center has created a support group for Spanish speakers navigating cancer, helping those navigating a difficult diagnosis find community.

BRIGHTON, Colo. — Getting the news you have cancer is tough for anyone to hear.

But for those who don't speak English, it can be even tougher diagnosis to navigate.

It's why Platte Valley Medical Center has created a cancer support group for Spanish speakers. And over the years, its members have turned navigating one of the most challenging times in their lives into a community.

Over at Platte Valley Medical Center Tuesday evening, everyone gathers inside. They're here to help one another navigate and talk through their journey with cancer. And all of it is in Spanish. 

"The truth is that, when they diagnose you with cancer, or any other illness that makes you think, 'the end is here.' But no," said Norma Luz Castro from Brighton. 

Luz Castro has been coming to this group for the past two years.

"I feel like I'm in a big family," Luz Castro said. "And the truth is, it's comforting to talk about your things that... personal things with people who understand the situation you're going through."

"I have seen how much they have opened up and they really are like a family. I feel that they are a family. They confide in us, they share their fears," said Lidia Puga, who helps serve as an interpreter for those in the support group. 

Puga said this Spanish support group isn't just unique, it's critical for those navigating a difficult diagnosis.

"It is so important to have a support group in a language they can understand and where they can share their fears, their concerns, any questions. It makes them feel more comfortable, they open up more," Puga said. 

And those needs and questions, Puga said, are often different from English speakers battling cancer. 

"They are not the same," Puga said. "There are some things that are different, access to resources. You know, there are not a lot of resources that are available in Spanish, even though the content, the written content is available. The verbal is not."

Here, they can share information, resources, connecting one another to help that can improve their care. But, also listen to each other's thoughts and fears.

"You can express things with your family and tell them the situation you're living through right now, like I express to them, "You know what? I was in a situation similar to yours, I had cancer, and the truth is you're not alone, you're not alone," Luz Castro said. 

Over the years, the women in this room have created a close bond.

"And the truth is that it's a great support for all of us as people who are suffering from this disease. Blessed be the Lord that all of us are now cancer-free, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ," Luz Castro said. 

And those here are ready to do the same for any others that walk through this door.

"It's a family really. For me to do this, for me to be able to do this is an honor," Puga said. 

Hopeful, this group can continue to break through the language barrier and make sure no one going through cancer is alone.

The Spanish cancer support group has been around for two years now with its core group who've been coming since the beginning along with newcomers coming all the time. But, they say this is group open to anyone navigating cancer, regardless of where you're being treated so they can reach as many as possible.

For anyone interested in joining, contact the Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton. 

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