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Day 1: Clinic July 5th, 2017

Women’s Health Medical Mission
Guatemala

It's the first day of clinic. We just flew in yesterday, and everything feels so new and eye-opening. We are all excited for what is in store. After about a 45 minute, bumpy ride we arrive to Escuintla. Most of us were unsure of what to expect. We didn't think that we would walk into a place where over 200 women were sitting patiently for free cervical cancer screenings and consultations. The local media is here and there is native music blaring from the speakers. There are municipality staff members advertising on the microphone about our services and keeping the crowd engaged. The air is buzzing with excitement about our free clinic in a place we had never offered before. The mayor and his wife are here showing their support. Onlookers peer from the entrance to see what all the noise is about. Women with smiles cautiously walk in to join the women already waiting.

Nervously, but eagerly, we rush to jump into our volunteer roles and most of us start taking vital signs so that the screenings could begin. There are so many women waiting and we feel the pressure to get started immediately and rapidly. About 5 of us took vital signs non-stop of about an hour, that is the amount of women we had waiting. There were about eight makeshift clinical exam rooms where nurses and doctors performed cervical exams and prescribe treatment to any patients if there are any abnormalities. The volunteers that are pharmacists, Carmela, Noor, and Uzma from Texas, help us with vitals and show the others how to do them, and then run to the pharmacy to organize and start giving and educating about their treatments.

Some of us shadow in the exam rooms. We had been given a training session from a gynecologist, the day we arrived in Antigua. Common cervical cancer is the primary cancer related killer, this is why these screenings are so important so we can provide treatment and medication. It's wonderful to see so many women being proactive about their health and it is great to know that we could help women that can't afford health treatment.

We also set up a table for donations that the volunteers brought from the US of new or like-new kids clothes. After the women are seen and receive their medications, they would come to the table to choose some clothing for their kids. The local news visits us too and Dr. Barbara Sager, an OB/GYN from Connecticut is interviewed.

Today has been incredibly satisfying to us because we were able to experience new skills and this environment gave us a new perspective of the way life is lived in a country like Guatemala. Several of us learned how to take blood pressures and check a glucose. I learned how to speak a little Spanish and interact with our very appreciative and happy patients. Also most of us learned more about cervical cancer through the training we received and from shadowing the doctors. More importantly, we realized from observing our patients that challenges we might experience at home are much less difficult than what people in Escuintla face. By the end of the day around 5pm, we had screened over 300 patients for cancer.

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