By Dylan Deprey
The pink and white sign said, “DIÁ DE “A CRUCIAL CATCH”. It directed people to the flight of stairs leading to the second floor of the Aurora Walker’s Point Community Health Center, on Milwaukee’s south side.
Pink was the color of choice for the staff on the second annual nationally held Crucial Catch Day.
The Aurora Walker’s Point Community Health Center was one of 40 federally qualified health centers to receive a grant given by the National Football League in association with the American Cancer Society.
The Crucial Catch initiative is meant to promote breast cancer awareness and connect women with free clinical breast exams in underserved communities.
Maria Perez is a registered nurse who works at Aurora Walker’s Point, who led the team of volunteers and employees during the event.
“It’s a little busier than last year,” Perez said. “I see a lot of new faces out there.”
Almost 80 percent of people who visit Aurora Walker’s Point Community Health Center are Hispanic and many of the patients are uninsured.
“We’re really grateful to have the program,” Maria Perez said.
On a normal day, the clinic usually has around six to seven clinical breast exams.
On Crucial Catch Day, the number skyrockets to around 50 women. Not only are there breast exams, but women can also schedule to get a mammogram at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center.
Maria Perez advocates for all women to get a mammogram.
The pain associated with mammograms sometimes scares women.
Maria Perez advises patients to take Ibuprofen before the exam to ease this pain.
“Some women also believe that the radiation the machine uses might cause cancer but it doesn’t,” Perez said.
When a lump is found people assume the worst. Maria Perez strives to keep women calm and to educate them that sometimes it might be a normal health cycle.
There are other reasons, whether it is due to the menstrual cycle or a dense breast.
Along with free screenings, Crucial Catch Day focused on women and men living a healthy lifestyle. The focus is to increase the total well being of the whole person.
The scent of garlic and fresh steamed vegetables lingered through the second floor of the building. The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee helped to offer cooking classes taught in Spanish, where guests learned healthy cooking options.
Core El Centro offered free yoga and Zumba lessons. Core El Centro is the non-profit wellness organization located a floor above Aurora Walker’s Point.
The group even gave out free massages to patrons, the employees and volunteers.
Jennifer Washington- McMurray, Health Systems Manager, Primary Care at the American Cancer Society builds relationships with Federally Qualified Health Care Centers. She linked up the American Cancer Society with Aurora Walker’s Point for the event.
“They are the faces of the community,” Washington- McMurray said.
“They fulfill the grant, and we are here for support.”
Jennifer Washington- McMurray also stressed how the collaboration of wellness organizations was the key to success in spreading breast cancer awareness.
Although Hispanics are the primary patients, Aurora Walker’s Point doesn’t turn anyone away.
Maria Perez joined Walker’s Point as a volunteer, and then got her degree in nursing.
She prefers to be on the wellness side of healthcare like screening and prevention.
“I really like to offer something more to my patients, not just when their sick,” Perez said.