SPARC grant awardees - Meet Bertha from Mexico

27 July 2016

Bertha Aguilar is 48 years old and a breast cancer survivor. She is Co-founder and President of the Cimab Foundation in Mexico, one of the 20 organisations receiving a SPARC grant to address the issues facing women with metastatic breast cancer worldwide.

As part of the SPARC MBC Challenge, the Cimab Foundation is currently developing digital platforms providing specific information for metastatic breast cancer patients.

What made you want to participate in the SPARC MBC challenge?

As a cancer organisation, we were welcoming many women with metastatic breast cancer and there was no structure in Mexico addressing their specific needs, so we decided to create a separate support group allowing us to learn more about their day-to-day challenges and identify measures to help them.

What are the difficulties you have been facing since the beginning of the SPARC adventure?

The SPARC challenge is a marvelous idea, but easier said than done. Creating the dedicated webpage of the project is quite challenging: choosing the right partners, naming the medical committee, defining how to present the content in a clear and friendly way, etc. We e-meet every week to analyse how things are moving forward and try to find solutions to the various challenges we are facing.

How does a typical work day look like?

I start my day with a 10km run, then I get to Cimab and start working with my wonderful team, attend meetings, discuss projects, etc. The evenings are dedicated to my family and some reading.

What do patients tell you when you engage them on the project? What do they think of the project?

When we meet patients individually, we usually notice that they feel sad, even depressed, and very angry about what they are going through. Their state of mind makes it difficult to engage them with digital technology. They are very grateful regarding this project because they see that their needs are being considered, and that people are listening to them. The key messaging has been adapted to this specific patient profile, the way we communicate with MBC patients is clearly different from the one used with primary breast cancer patients, which makes them feel as being part of a specific group within society.

You will be meeting COMESAMA (Mexican coalition for breast health) and ULACCAM (Latin-American coalition against women cancers) in August. Why are these meetings relevant, what are you aiming to?

We are seeking for a maximum of support and those organisations are crucial for inviting women to join the project. 

For more information on the SPARC MBC challenge please click here

Last update: 
Tuesday 16 May 2017
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