At the beginning of December, the St. Luke Foundation had the pleasure of receiving a visit from our long time friends and partners, Mariavittoria Rava, the president of the Rava Foundation, Dr. Enrico Casano, and Donatella Dipaolo, from the Rava Foundation in Italy. Dr. Casano has been an integral part of our breast cancer screening program that we began with the Rava Foundation’s help at the beginning of 2017. Since the start of the program, we have been able to screen over 2,000 women!
During their visit, Dr. Casano and the ladies visited our local partner Innovating Health International (IHI) who partners with us to provide chemotherapy for the 119 women in our program who have tested positive for breast cancer. We have also been able to offer 88 women mastectomies at our hospital.
Dr. Casano gave two lectures at St. Luke Hospital during his visit. The first lecture was with our doctors. He was able to share his expertise from screening and treating breast cancer in Italy, and give advice to the doctors as they continue to do the same in Haiti.
The very next day, Saturday morning, another lecture was held for the women in the program who had come to be screened. This lecture explained to the women attending how to perform a breast self-exam in order to check for lumps or any changes in breast tissue. Of course, no event is complete without food, so St. Luke provided pastries and juice for all in attendance.
At the second lecture, Ms. Donatella Dipaolo, a journalist, shared her own personal story about surviving breast cancer, similar to our two local breast cancer survivors who do community outreach for the program, and was able to leave the women with a story of hope and encouragement—not just that breast cancer can be beaten, but also that women in countries like Italy experience the disease too and want to help.
Another guest from Italy, Umberta Gnutti Beretta, also a breast cancer provider and the chairperson for the Rava Foundation’s Committee of Women for Haiti, joined the team for a day. The Committee of Women for Haiti helps support and promote the breast cancer program at St. Luke hospital. For contribution to this committee Ms. Beretta interviewed Dr. Ambroise, Nurse Nathalie Pervil, our medical director, Dr. Augustin, all who were able to provide insight about the breast cancer program at St. Luke and the challenges that women face to receive treatment in Haiti.
After the morning lecture, Dr. Casano worked with our local doctors, Dr. Pyram and Dr. Ambroise, to offer the ultrasound screening to the women attending the program. Working together, they were able to screen forty women.
To round out their visit, Dr. Casano and Ms. Dipaolo, sat down with Dr. Augustin to discuss the future of the program. Dr. Augustin was able to share some of the challenges St. Luke faces with expanding the program, and the need to be able to provide more intensive treatments if the program is to grow. This kind of growth would include the ability to provide cancer treatments like chemotherapy at St. Luke Hospital for woman who screen positive for breast cancer. Although this may be a little ways down the road for St. Luke Hospital, we continue to look toward the future and how we can provide dignified care to the people of Haiti. We are so grateful for donors and partners like the Rava Foundation who help us provide care for populations who many times get overlooked—in this case, the amazing, strong, resilient women of Haiti.