131 women were seen at the Zacamil Clinic in two days, and all
experienced the simple visual, cervical examination relying on
ordinary vinegar that PINCC is using and training local medicos to
perform in developing countries on three continents.
One 38-year-old woman was found to have cervical cancer, but it was
caught early enough that she has a good chance for a cure. She has a
chance she simply could not have had without today's exam.
Another had a precancerous lesion serious enough to require removal
with a LEEP machine, which, in trained hands, delicately cuts out the
abnormal tissue while cauterizing at the same time. This one would
have become a life-threatening cervical cancer without today's exam.
Another 16 women had precancerous abnormalities serious enough to
require freezing with cryotherapy equipment, which was purchased with
donations and brought by PINCC from the United States for this mission.
That's 18 lives altered in mid-course in a way likely to have averted
My job on the trip includes processing the paperwork for each patient,
entering details into a spreadsheet that ultimately includes post-exam
results. I see every name and every result, and I see women coming
and going all day. As a non-clinician, though, I am never in a
position to put a name with a face.
But I'll always remember that 18 of the women I saw today and
yesterday -- along with the children many brought with them to the
clinic -- literally had their destinies changed because of this
medical mission I have the good fortune to be part of.
And many more will have their lives changed for the better because so
many of the local doctors and nurses now have skills and techniques to
save lives that they didn't have before.
And starting today, the clinicians at Zacamil will be able to perform
cryotherapy on their own after we've gone because PINCC donated a cryo-
gun, along with the training to use it.
-- Larry Shushan, PINCC volunteer in Latin America
(Photos: A nurse takes medical histories while women wait to be called
for their exams; another nurse distributes literature about what to
expect; and El Salvadorean gynecologist Dr. Julio Rosales performs
cryotherapy on a young patient at Zacamil Clinic this morning)