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Breast Cancer Education for Native American Women: Creating Culturally Relevant Communications

Frances Robinson
Nellie Sandoval
Julie Baldwin
Priscilla R. Sanderson
CJON 2005, 9(6), 689-692 DOI: 10.1188/05.CJON.689-692

In the Navajo language, the word for cancer translates as the sore that does not heal. This literal linkage to a sense of hopelessness refl ects a cultural perspective that impedes cancer detection in its early, more treatable stages. As a coauthor of this article and a Navajo breast cancer survivor, Nellie Sandoval, BS, MS, explains that the very topic of cancer is taboo to discuss among the Navajo population, for to speak of cancer is to invite it. When statistical data from the San Juan Regional Tumor Registry supported the authors' anecdotal findings regarding late diagnoses, they created Breast Cancer: It Can Be Healed. The fi rst Navajo-language video to address such cultural barriers, it discusses the triad of early detection-breast self-examination, clinical examination, and mammography. Its success sparked creation of a second video, sponsored by the Native American Cancer Research Partnership (NACRP). The 12-minute video, Breast Cancer: The Healing Begins, focuses on treatment options, including surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy. By conducting fi eld screenings throughout the Navajo Nation, the NACRP team has enhanced the video's visual imagery and messages and as confi rmed the value of cultural relevancy in cancer education.

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