To celebrate National Women’s Health Week, we are sharing this blog written by our NJ Cancer Education and Early Education outreach coordinator. Shelby Guzman honors her grandmother’s memory by working every day so women have a fighting chance against cancer.

My grandmother died too young. Just 59, she snuggled her first great-granddaughter to her chest and felt something. That “something” turned out to be an aggressive cancerous tumor. And even though we worked quickly to find the care she needed, there was no treatment strong enough.

I still miss her. And I work every day with Trenton Health Team and the NJ Cancer Education and Early Detection (NJCEED) program to give patients a fighting chance to beat cancer.

THT provides free comprehensive screening services for breast, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer through NJCEED. Studies show these cancers can be treated more effectively when found early.

During National Women’s Health Week (May 12-18), I think about my grandmother’s legacy and the difference early detection can make. As the NJCEED Outreach Coordinator, I share educational health information and encourage individuals to come for screenings that can save their lives.

We schedule appointments and notify patients of their test results. If an abnormality is detected, our team provides referrals for appropriate follow-up care–which is completely covered through the NJCEED program–so, patients diagnosed with cancer can begin treatment right away.  We walk them through the process, giving them the support they need at every step.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the state of New Jersey. NJCEED helps women and men detect cancer early, increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Through NJCEED, THT helps Mercer County’s low-income residents overcome hurdles blocking access to health care such as lack of transportation, health illiteracy or language barriers so they can access life-saving services.

NJCEED serves uninsured patients, as well as those who have health insurance but cannot afford the deductible or co-pay requirement. Household income limits are 250% of the federal poverty limit, based on family size; about $60,000 for a family of four.

Screenings are held in the afternoons on the second and fourth Friday at Capital Regional Medical Center, 750 Brunswick Ave., Trenton. Our mobile clinic will be in Hightstown Saturday June 15th and we will be hosting other screening events in Trenton and throughout Mercer County in upcoming months.

While women usually are the caregivers who worry about everyone else’s health–it is just as important to make time for our own check-ups and care. National Women’s Health Week is a reminder for women to make their own health a priority–your grandkids will thank you for it.

Shelby Guzman is the NJCEED Outreach Coordinator. Prior to joining THT, she worked as the Office Manager at Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund. She is a second-generation Guatemalan-American immigrant and strongly believes in giving back to her community and helping individuals live healthy lives.