The Compton Walk for a Cure Breast Cancel Walk was held October 23 at Centennial High School. Despite intermittent rain, the event welcomed over 500 participants who took part in health exams, before starting the walk. The walks founders, Compton Unified School board trustee Satra Zurita, and her sister former city councilwoman Janna Zurita continue to educate women on the importance of early detection of breast cancer.
“I was initially contacted by a distraught mother of a 17-year-old student who was not going to be allowed to participate in senior activities and graduation because she didn’t pass the California High School Exit Exam, and I discovered the student was recovering from breast cancer,” said Zurita. “My sister Janna and I decided to do something about educating the community on the importance of early detection, and here we are 10 years later, continuing to help the community.”
Zurita continues to share her personal story of being a breast cancer survivor and how educating others, led to the early detection of her own diagnosis.
“People would ask which of you have had cancer because they assumed that our passion was as a result of being personally affected. Neither of us had been affected by breast cancer… until year 6,” explained Zurita. “In 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and because it was found so early I could have had a lumpectomy, radiation and chemotherapy, but as I had told my sister and friends that if I was ever diagnosed I would have a double mastectomy.”
Zurita had a double mastectomy in August 2017, and was able to share her testimony to participants at their 6th annual walk.
Zurita believes in the importance of educating women in urban communities about how early detection saves lives. The walks highlight and encourage women get routine mammograms, and with monthly self-checks, we can substantially decrease the number of women dying from breast cancer, which affects African American and Latino at higher rates.
“1 in 8 women will get breast cancer this year, and early detection is a key to survival,” said Zurita.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Black women, and an estimated 33,840 new cases were diagnosed in 2019, with an estimated 6,540 deaths in 2019.
In 2020, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 685 000 deaths around the world.
Zurita estimates their events have reached nearly 20,000 women, over the last decade, including last year’s which was held virtually due to the COVID pandemic. This year, the event will resume outdoors.
“In 2018 over 260 women received on-site ultra sound screenings and 15 suspicious masses were found and these women were referred to their physicians,” said Zurita. “An ultrasound is much more invasive than a mammogram and are rarely performed unless a patient has received a suspicious mammogram result.”
Participants were able to get health screenings, tattoos and piercings, and the St. John mobile clinic was also on hand to give COVID vaccinations to those in need.
“St. John’s Well Child & Family Clinic, and CEO Jim Mangia are doing an excellent job of insuring women in our community have access and equity in medical care,” said Zurita. “St. John’s has 3 Compton clinics, including one on our Dominguez High School campus. Women can also receive 24-hour medical care at Dusk to Dawn Urgent Care owned by Dr. Eugene Allen.”