Early detection can help you win the fight Early detection can help you win the fight

Early detection can help you win the fight

CORPORATE 5 October, 2016 María Alejandra Tavera

Coomeva Private Healthcare encourages women to do regular medical checkups, especially breast self-exams and mammograms.


Julián Villegas
National Chief of Healthcare Risk Management at Coomeva Private Healthcare

At Coomeva Private Healthcare we take an interest in caring for your health, in preventing diseases and in providing you access to quality and reliable healthcare services. This is why we regularly encourage women to do general medical checkups, especially breast self-exams and mammograms when indicated. Among the insured population, an increase in breast cancer diagnosis has been found and the rate of incidence is 52 of every 100,000 women.


A culture of prevention

As Dr. Julián Villegas explains, National Chief of Healthcare Risk Management at Coomeva Private Healthcare, “We have implemented the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología (INC, National Cancer Institute) with mammogram screenings and programs for the early detection of breast cancer. We have done this by performing an active search of those enrollees that are older than 50 and are not registered in the system for having received a mammogram in the last two years. These people are called in order to promote mammogram exams in our high-quality integral healthcare centers. We also provide education on self-care and on incorporating healthy life habits. We seek to consistently ensure that the administrative documentation for the authorization of further exams is provided, as well as take early action to treat our users with cancer, among other efforts.”


Better to be on time  

During the first quarter of 2016, Coomeva Private Healthcare conducted 13,840 mammograms. Considering that early detection means a greater survival rate for the patient, Coomeva continues to promote prevention and early detection. Based on specialized literature (SEER of the National Cancer Institute), the survival rate is greater than 93% over a five-year period among those with stage two cancer, and is 100% among those with stages zero and one.

October 19 is the International Breast Cancer Awareness Day, an opportunity to promote healthy habits and educate women on the importance of early detection to improve the possibilities of efficient treatment. In celebration of this day of health promotion, Coomeva Private Healthcare is featuring the stories of two women that fought and survived breast cancer due to their early detection, proving that it is possible to fight and win the battle.

Imagen-Teresa-Giraldo-Bola§os-(22)Teresa Giraldo Bolaños, 
72 years old, from Cali.

Teresa is a fighter from Cali. She is the mother of three children and is living proof of a victorious battle against cancer. She has been enrolled in Coomeva Private Healthcare since 2000, and is satisfied with the service and attention she received through her private health insurance.

Since she was young she suffered from fibrocystic breast disease to the point where it even complicated her ability to breastfeed. This condition led her to get regular doctor visits to check on the condition of her breasts. “I had to get checkups and treatments for the breast cysts that I experienced throughout my life. The doctor told me that I should be monitored because my condition brought the risk of cancer. One day, being very thorough, I felt a lump under my arm, which led me to go to the doctor immediately,” Teresa explains.

In September 2004, she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and began cancer treatment. Her doctor performed all the pertinent exams and coordinated the various forms of medical attention needed to get greater and better results.

Teresa shares, “I began treatment with several different doctors: two oncologists, one nutritionist and a psychologist. I ended up having difficulties falling asleep, and so they sent me too a psychiatrist. I had to lose weight during my first year of chemotherapy, and that didn’t happen, so I went to an endocrinologist who found that my thyroid was very enlarged. I was seen by an internal medicine physician that followed the general state of my health, as well as a urologist because I had a urinary complication. I received checkups frequently in every specialty area of medicine there is, as my treatment lasted for four years: there was chemotherapy, 45 sessions of radiology and even visits to the dermatologist for some moles that appeared on my skin.”



While the process was hard, Teresa fondly recalls the staff that treated her during chemotherapy. Due to the continued and comprehensive attention that she received, her recovery, both mental and physical, was successful.

She strongly recommends women to continue their treatment and to not fear going to the psychologist or psychiatrist. She emphasizes that getting referrals to see these specialists is so that the person can learn to control their anxiety and feelings, as “The mind isn’t as strong and support is needed to take control of it.”


Personal growth

“The doctor emphasized that I had to be confident, have faith and hope, and stick to the treatment in order to get better. Not all is lost, you have to continue. If you believe in your body, you can get better,” Teresa tells.

At the end of her fifth year the doctors told her that the treatment had fulfilled its objective. They performed bone scans, chest x-rays, and clinical lab exams and confirmed that the cancer had gone away.

She continues to receive annual checkups as well as mammograms, and due to her early detection, they did not have to remove her breast.

“I thank God that the treatment was successful. I would like to be part of a support network for patients that are beginning treatment, give them words of encouragement and share my experience. There are not enough words to thank Coomeva for their service,” she states.

Imagen-_P5A8384Lucía Duque Restrepo, 
69 years old, from Medellín, with her husband Jorge Iván López.

A year ago, Lucía Duque Restrepo, a 68-year-old woman from Medellín, and enrolled with Coomeva Private Healthcare since 2000, found out that she had breast cancer.

“I found out because Coomeva called me and invited me to go to a mammogram day. I said I would go, but I forgot. They called me again and I said yes. Although, I admit that I felt nervous about them insisting, I saw it as a sign. I went to the appointment and did the mammogram. A few days later the mastologist called me to make an appointment. This was when I was told that I had breast cancer, that it was not major, but that it had to be treated. So we began working quickly,” Lucía shares.

Lucía expresses her satisfaction with the attention of the medical staff and assistants that treated her throughout her process. She has already been able to see some of the anticipated results, which motivates her and gives her confidence.

“Soon I will begin my second cycle of chemotherapy. It has been a long, but excellent, process. The doctors have taught me how to take care of my health and I have learned about what the body needs, as I was always suffering from pain in my breasts but I never went to get an exam,” she tells.

Lucía has reflected on the importance of seeing a doctor when you feel any pain or change in your health. Even though she does not have women family members in her life to teach her the importance of getting regular medical checkups, she acknowledges that the message of prevention lies within her, and can be found by paying attention and understanding the signs that our bodies provide.

“Coomeva Private Healthcare is excellent. I didn’t use it much before, but every time I had an appointment it went great, and even more so now during my treatment. Today, medicine has all the tools it needs, and specialists are more knowledgeable about medical studies. There are more specialties to thoroughly analyze diseases and it is easier to understand what is happening,” Lucía emphasizes.