Stop Following and Start Leading

Be a community leader. Stop following and start leading.

It’s cool to donate your change to charity, but how about creating change? See a need in your community and address it. Don’t ignore the graffiti and litter, don’t complain about it either. Stand up and do something about it.

Pics 1845-2Community service is power. Power to change the world and make it a better place for others. A study done by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that about 64.3 million Americans, or 26.8 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $171 billion in 2011. The average value of a volunteer hour was estimated to be $21.79. Without volunteers, services for low income families would be impossible to obtain because of the high costs. Tutoring for example can cost up to $70 an hour, while a high school student can tutor for free for unlimited hours.

Community service does not only benefit the people receiving help, but also the volunteers. Volunteers are awarded many mind and body benefits including a wider sense of humility, increased confidence, increased happiness, increased fitness, and reduced risk of depression. Other benefits include skill development, friendship making, career experience, and fun. Crime rates also tend to go down in communities with active volunteers. Service integrates a community and connects people with one another. Anyone can volunteer male, female, black, white, old, young. It is never too early or too late. Whether it is creating a garden or cleaning a stream, volunteers are making a difference in their communities.

Get Involved

By accepting the challenge to create a change, you are also assuming the role as a leader. Leadership is the choice to step in and motivate others to accomplish a goal. It is great to do a good thing. Whether it is to pick up trash for an hour or to tutor one student after school once week, it is amazing to contribute to the community and want to do more. Don’t spend your whole afternoon by yourself picking up trash; get your friends involved. Let them make a difference!

Key Club, Girl Scouts, and Interact Club have realized the power of numbers. Girl Scouts has created so many strong leaders, who attribute their success from volunteering at a young age. In a speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, Hilary Clinton recalls Girl Scouts as the place where she engaged with her “first lessons in leadership”. Clinton “credits this to service opportunities in “organizing food drives and helping out at nursing homes.”

Leadership

Anyone has the potential to be a leader, and leadership can come in different forms. Some leaders are boastful and have bad intentions for their goals, and this type of leaders may also put people down to get what they want. Good leaders are humble and want to help foster the potential of their followers. Great leaders put others first and do everything they can to make a difference, no matter the sacrifice.

Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and Harriet Tubman weren’t always leaders, but when they saw a need, they made a choice to step in, and do something. Leadership does take courage and commitment, but it is a skill that can constantly be improved, through practice and experience.

You don’t have to join a service club or volunteer every week. Just by hosting a bake sale for cancer with your friends you are making a difference. No good deed goes unnoticed. The report “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” by CNCS, found that people who volunteered regularly  had lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. And if for no other reason there is a lot of self-satisfaction in making the world a better place.

Everyone should go out in the world, be a leader, unite people, and create change.  Do not ignore the suffering that is going around you. Many of us have been blessed to have so many gifts and talents, it is only right for us to share them.

Author’s Note: I am a high school junior and I am a community leader. Last year I was awardered a $1,000 grant to implement a grant in my community. I created Scholar Society, a program that aims to foster academic potential, leadership, and community inolvnment in low income and first generation students. If you have any questions on how to start your own project feel free to email me at vascholarsociety@gmail.com

 

Valentine’s Day: Friends Forever

The typical way to celebrate ‘V-Day’ is getting together with that one boy and watching a classic “chick flick” like The Notebook or The Vow, and buying an expensive dinner for the two of you that you secretly know you don’t like. What about when you don’t have a special boy and just want to celebrate with your friends? Or when you just really don’t want to go through another typical date and eat food you don’t like?

“This year my best friend and I don’t have boyfriends or a special someone and we’re pretty bummed out because everywhere we go there are cute couples all over the place making us feel bad,” said Sammy, 15.

The wild pink and red environment of people running around buying presents was making them feel blue and they decided to get together and throw something completely different for the occasion making everyone’s day a better one.

“We decided we weren’t going to let it ruin our day so we decided we are going to have a party with single friends; kind of like an Anti-Valentine’s thing. I’m just trying to make it a good day for my friends, no more crying over dumb reasons,” said Sammy.

There is nothing like hanging out with your girls sharing laughs and having fun, even when you already have that special someone.

“I have a boyfriend and he wanted to do something special, but I told him no because I wanted to do something with my friends,” said Carla, 17.

“I wanted to have a movie night, perhaps a sleepover, eat a lot of junk food, maybe do some pranks, and just have fun because I love my friends and I know that hanging out with my boyfriend isn’t going to be as fun as being with my girls,” she adds.

For Danielle, 20, she celebrates Valentines Day differently.

“I go to school in Lubbock, my boyfriend goes to school in Austin and other friends or family members are back home in El Paso, I have no one to celebrate Valentine’s day with,” said Danielle.

She adds she has made friends since moving out, but prefers to staining in with her roommate.

“I just don’t feel like going out, I’m just going to stay in with my roommate buy some food and off course, lots and lots of chocolate! This day makes me feel so sad and makes me miss everyone back home, but I don’t mind spending it with my roommate because we’re both girls, we can have fun and share stories together,” said Danielle.

Even though she is miles away from her loved ones she found a way to spend this red day with someone that will give her some company and share this day with even if it isn’t her special someone.

Whether you are celebrating with your significant other or friends, did you know that an average of 15% of the U.S women buy themselves flowers? A little self-love in the form of flowers is nothing to be ashamed about. We deserve something special now and then, and when we have no one to buy us any why not buy them ourselves?

BFF: Dominique & Bethany

BFF: Dominique & Bethany

Spending Valentine’s Day can be a nightmare for some people, but even though they know they don’t have a special someone to share it with there is always going to be your friends you can count on to cheer you up and be with you through the tough times. Go out with your friends, plan a movie night, eat junk food, stay in and share stories, have a party! Good friends will always be there, and if they spend this day with you, you know they’re keepers, you’ll be friends forever.

Parents in the Military

Photo credit: theeap.com

Photo credit: theeap.com

More and more children are missing out on the get togethers with loved ones due to the increasing amount of individuals leaving to the military.

Angie Vasquez, 5, sits alone during the lunch hour due to her definition of feeling “left out.”

She says, “I feel like so many other girls have so much. They have their toys, but most of all they have their dads and moms with them. I have my pictures of them, but I don’t think they can feel me wrap my arms around them when I go to bed.”

According to a survey done by Blue Star Families, 67% of parents leaving oversees and leaving their children behind sought to search for mental health rehabilitation due to anxiety from being away from their children.

Vasquez says, “I like that my mom and dad are taking care of America, now America doesn’t have to worry about bombs or guns, but sometimes I want them [parents] to come home.”

Like her, there is a 68% increase of indepence in the child, but is it adaptability or a sense that they too have to become young adults earlier in life?

Tomasa Flores, Angie’s caretaker for the next year or so, says, “I have nothing bad to say about the military. My son Jose was in the Mexican army, but I do say that it is different for someone as young as Angie. She is a baby. I reminder her daily that I love her. If I don’t, who will?”

At this moment, Angie Vasquez interrupts and says, “My mom and dad love me! They call each night before I go to bed and wish the bugs don’t come in and bite. I love you too, Toma!”

Flores hugs her close and repeats the words to young Vasquez and says, “I do not think I could of gone to great lengths to try to save the US and my child’s future all by herself.”

Angie says, ” When my mom and dad come home I’ll be this much old,” while sticking her right hand flat and one finger up on the left hand.

Dosomething.org claims “more than 900,000 children experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.”

Cards, letters and gift packages once dominated the mail waves soon after 9/11, but increased mail restrictions make it all the harder to do so. For a family member overseas, communication helps bring them closer. Talking to them everyday or as consistently as possible helps in coping with their deployment.

Vasquez is proof that staying optimistic is the only way she will stay confident. She said, “Even if I can’t send my mom or dad a real hug. I sent a photo of me, when both my top teeth were out. I asked Santa to give me my teeth for Christmas and I’ll be waiting.”

She smiles and it becomes evident that her upper teeth are coming in by a fraction of an inch.

If your loved one is oversees, send them a care package to bring a smile to their life the same way they make you smile when you have a chance to speak with them.

My Best Friend, My Mom

Girls at parkA mom is considered a blessing. Moms learn to love their child with a love that cannot be compared to anything, because this type of love is the type that will do anything for that little person. Part of her heart already belongs to you, but is already scared. She is terrified of someone hurting you, of losing you, and is scared of failing as a mother. A book with instructions on how to raise the perfect child does not exist.

Coping with an Overprotective Mom

 Right away, a mom has the urge to protect you to a point that is considered being overprotective. This might get annoying, but be patient and try to understand where she is coming from. There will be a moment in our lives where we have to try to understand them — even if we think they are being “overprotective.” You are trying to be more independent, but to your mom you will always be her bebé and she is worried about what will happen to you. When we grow up we often feel more independent, and want to do everything by ourselves. It will be natural for a mom to intervene and try to stop a decision we sometimes think is super important. Sometimes she will intervene so much the relationship will get to a point where a mother and daughter may not speak to each other. Talk to your mom to see why she is being overprotective, and listen instead of resorting to shouting.Try to see if you can take additional responsibilities and how you can gain her trust. Talking instead of shouting will not only strengthen the relationship, but you will be able to see her side of the story.

Alexis Bobadilla, 18, recalls the time when she used to fight with her mom. She was 13 when she decided to choose the wrong type of people. Her mom always tried to stop her from making mistakes that Alexis would regret in a future. Unfortunately, Alexis took her advice the wrong way, and decided to go against her mom’s will. When she became a senior, she realized that she was doing something wrong. She came to her senses and she was able to establish a great relationship with her mom.

“I just realized that I was wrong, and I needed to trust her more, and take her advice, now my relationship with her is amazing,” Bobadilla said.

Strengthening the Relationship with Mom

            Growing up we think we know everything, but we sometimes underestimate the knowledge of a woman who has been through everything. Having a great a relationship with your mom it is not always simple, but it is worth fighting for. You will eventually need your mom for advice; from boys to clothes or from school to raising your own kid, she is not afraid of guiding you. If you are having a difficult time getting along with your mom, try talking to her more to make her feel like you value her opinion. Having a healthy relationship with your mom not only affects you, but your family as well, because pride can be very toxic in a relationship.

          One of the best ways to strengthen the relationship with your mom is by greeting her every time she comes home; following the greeting with a simple question, such as “ How was your day, mom?” These little things are a good way to start a conversation, and speak about the things that happened in your day. Communication is the key in order to have a good relationship with your mom.

            Sometimes it is hard for a mom to understand that her baby is not longer a baby; moms get super attached to them, so when they are already all grown up it is hard for them to let go. Daniela, 21, relates to this. “My mom and I were close, but, as I grew up, I started to get away from her, and she resented it,” Daniela said.

            Yes, we do tend to become distant from our mom during certain times of our lives, but it is important to keep talking to her, and to always find a way to improve the relationship with her. The main reason to have a great relationship with our mom is because there isn’t a bond like the mother and daughter. Your mom may or not be your best friend, but there isn’t an advice like the one that your mother gives you. You will have your differences, but, like any other relationship, you must overcome the bumps on the road.

            Your mom will always be there for you no matter what happens in life. The hardest job is to be a mom. Your mom is one of the few people in the work you can fully trust, and will love you no matter what. Life is too short to keep fighting; try your best understand, forgive, and start over if you are having a rocky relationship with your mom.

Guy Talk: Q & A

A guy talk Q&A session from a teen to teens.

Why do guys have the mentality of a little boy?

RLP_Latinitas_Activities Photos-29

Most girls complain that guys cannot be mature about certain things, and in some cases guys begin to physically mature at an older age. According to Education.com, “… a young woman reaches full maturity, in terms of brain development between 21 and 22 years of age. A young man does not reach full maturity, in terms of brain development, until nearly 30 years of age.” But, it also depends on the guy, because it is a false statement when girls and women say, “ Men are all the same.” The truth is, guys need us to communicate with them, they want girls to tell them what they want and what they need.  Relationships will not always be pink hearts and roses meaning there will be fights, but the whole point of a fight is to talk it over and move on.

What type of gifts you can give a guy?

When giving a gift to your boyfriend you can start with investigating the types of things he likes or his favorite store. Then you can give him simply articles like sweaters, shirts, belts, cologne, a watch, etc. It is pretty simple and you might have the chance to change your boyfriend’s style.  Investigate the types of things he is into. For example, if you boyfriend is into a particular sport and you know his favorite team, buy him that team’s key chain, a beanie, shirts, or pants, etc. If your boyfriend is into art you can get him a set of brushes with some drawing books. If he is the type of guy that is into music, maybe make a playlist of his favorite songs, or give him a gift card to download music, or something from his favorite band. If he is into cars try to give him a model car and make him build it. Be creative, and if you have any trouble just ask a friend for help while shopping for you boyfriend’s gift.

Where can I go for my first date, or any other date?

The most common place to go on a date is to the movies. The best date movies are romantic comedies, horror movies, regular comedies, or maybe action movies. If you think that might be boring, you can go bowling or play pool, it is fun, and you can talk about yourself at the same time. If you want to get to know him better go somewhere quiet, go for a bite to eat, and later a walk around the park. A picnic in the park is also quiet, and something romantic and different. Also you might want to take the opportunity to play different sports. If you are daring and spontaneous, you can try paintball, or maybe go ice skating. Also, try going to a concert or a museum. When dating, be creative, and have fun at the same time!

How do I break up with someone?

Breaking up with someone is also one of hardest and most uncomfortable things to do, especially if you are in love with that person. But once you decide to break up with a guy, there is no turning back. You are breaking up with him for a reason, and for me, there is no point of getting back together when you decided to leave him for good. To break up with a guy you must remember to tell him in person, it is cruel to do it by phone or text. Then just tell him how you feel, the reasons why you think it’s not working anymore, and you also have the choice of asking him to stay friends. Sometimes though, the break up might get ugly, and if it does just leave. You already said what you needed to say so there is not point to fight it over with him.

Dealing with Death

maryjanes-heart-funeral-flowersCoping with the loss of a loved one can be tough. To some, death often comes at a moment when they are unprepared for the person’s absence or an emotional crisis. It takes weeks, months, and sometimes years to realize that their best friend, mother, classmate or sister is truly gone.  Death is inevitable, but know this: you are not alone.

Coping with suicide

Salazar, 17, lost her close friend, Nigel, to bullying. Nigel was ridiculed for being a male cheerleader. On the morning of Nigel’s suicide, America Salazar said, “Yesterday was a bad day our school. We were on lockdown for about 3 hours after school because they thought he was a threat [to the entire school,] but he wasn’t.”

Salazar will spend her last semester in middle school trying to make plans for a friend who did not deserve to die.

“How many suicides is it going to take for the bullying to stop?! It’s really sad that the only way Nigel felt his pain will go away was to end his life,” she expressed.

Salazar and a team of interested students grouped together to think of ways to help cope with his suicide. For example, America plans to petition other students to remember Nigel by posting ideas on Facebook.  On Facebook she wrote, “Write a semi-colon on your wrist. I have one on today and I will have one on for the next days to come,” yet the remembrance does not stop there. In another post, she provided other ideas to students affected by Nigel’s passing. She said, “I want to get a whole bunch of red balloons, purple or blue. Whatever Nigel liked and tie a note telling Nigel whatever you wanted to say to him.” Salazar also expressed her feelings by writing and sharing Nigel’s story through social media.

“I hope the people who made fun of him realize how stupid and idiotic they were for making fun of him for loving his passion. He loved to cheerlead, what a big deal! He was sweet and he was doing what made him happy! He was enjoying life and people can’t respect that?” she states.

Learning to deal is the first step towards getting better. Salazar says, “I was talking to the psychiatrist. My eyes hurt from crying so much.”

“I thank everyone that helped today to try and make me feel better, even if I am not for a while,” she adds.

Most importantly Salazar expressed that crying is okay. She says, “Tonight I cried my eyes out. It was good to see his family at the night vigil. I like to thank everyone, friends who help me while I don’t feel okay.”

Teen suicide is prevalent in teens that are victims of bullying. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.” Wounds are not always physical, if you know of someone who is being bullied talk to a teacher, counselor, or parent.  You might be saving a life!

Coping with the death of a family member

To some, the loss of a family member may be more difficult to handle. Although death affects everyone differently, Sarah Amaya, 15, says she lost her mother a year ago and getting over it is hardest now. Amaya says, “The day I found out she died I felt like something was missing. Later that same day my father was waiting to pick me up from school, which was weird because I’d always walk home. When we got home he says, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this…your mom died.’
I felt my heart fall to my stomach then to my feet. I was numb. I was in denial for a moment. She passed away in her sleep this morning like at 2a.m. My world was over. I felt this emptiness. I couldn’t accept it! My mother, my world, my best friend, my everything, gone? Couldn’t be! I just sat there as the reality of it all caved in on me, my sister had gone outside, but I just sat there, motionless, tears I couldn’t even feel, streaming down my face. Then I looked at my dad and studied his face. I saw grief.”

She explains the inner torment further. “I got phone calls asking me if I was okay and for once I was hones: ‘No, I’m not okay.’ Then it clicked, I didn’t want to speak to anyone, so many negative thoughts ran through my head at once so I went to my bathroom and sat on the floor. I was out of tears; I wanted to be where my mom was at. Life without my mom was meaningless to me… I would give anything to have my mother back, literally anything. I don’t think I can ever ‘get over it.’ She gave me life. Every day I am stuck with the emptiness that she is gone. Nobody and nothing could fulfill her place.”

These days, she deals with the pain by visiting her grave whenever she can. She says, “I talk to her and tell her what is new with me as though she were still present.”

Amaya adds, “To others dealing with death I would tell them that it is okay to cry. Surround yourself with loved ones. You are not alone. [I take comfort in telling them] that their loved ones are watching over. Be strong.”

Amaya says that her source of inspiration to live came from her mother. She said, “I thought back to a moment of when I lived with her. She and I had a conversation, she told me, ‘Life is bad, and I get it. Death happens naturally, you go when you go. You won’t end up in heaven if you’re the cause of your death. Stick it out; Life gets better I promise.’”

Everyone copes with grief differently, but expressing your feelings to a friend or family member will help the grieving process. You are not alone in this moment and have friends and family that will help you through this tough time.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Young Latinas are driven to be successful in social and professional situations. As strong chicas, little will get in the way of growing girls with determination and support on their side – so she can reach out and knock down life’s obstacles. There are some niñas out there who will find the reaching out part to be overwhelming. Seventeen year old, Destanee Saucedo describes how not being outgoing can cause her to “freak out” and think to herself “why can’t I talk?” when everyone else finds it easy being outgoing. Like Destanee, these girls are wallflowers; they are shy, and, whether you are an introvert or know someone who is, you know wallflowers have a lot to offer. It’s important to remember that when a young woman is shy it only means that her personality type is different from what’s considered the “ideal” social personality. According to a “Gentle Power: The Positive Psychology of Introversion,” the introvert, when driven by passion for what she is speaking up for, can “produce invaluable contributions, communities, and cultures.”  Introverts spend a lot of time absorbing the world around them, and as observers they save their words until they feel enough passion for what she is thinking to step outside of her comfort zone and be loud. When a shy girl speaks up, you better believe it’s because she has spent enough time in her head to decide that what she’s saying is important.

So how does a wallflower grow in a world that favors the outgoing? Here are few tips:

1. Think Small When Social. Being in large groups is often overwhelming for an introvert and going out of your way to plan hangouts in smaller groups might make it easier to feel comfortable. This means having real conversations instead of “small talk” and developing the intimate and real relationships shy girls tend to prefer. Planning a trip to the bookstore, a trip to a cafe, or a game night at home is a great way to spend time with a few friends without completely leaving your comfort zone.

Tip: Having that one friend who’s outgoing and makes you do things out of your comfort zone isn’t a bad idea. You never know what you could like until you try it with a little nudge from a friend. If your outgoing friend is forcing you to do something you’re not comfortable with at all, tell her to stop!

2. Make Time for “Nothing”.  Speaking up and being in large groups and busy settings can definitely tire a wallflower. Take little steps to getting out of your shell and recharge your batteries by finding time for yourself. Yes, chicas, this means that “doing nothing” is necessary. There is no shame in taking time to stay home every once in a while to daydream, work on hobbies, do chores, run errands or anything that gives you the alone time you need to balance social interactions.

3. Breathe When Your Brain Feels Busy. Introversion makes the brain busy and it’s important to be aware of this. Constant interior thinking can make it difficult to focus and makes your brain feel like it’s about to burst. Take time to pull yourself out of these situations and breathe. Feeling tired? Try taking a short breath in and take your time exhaling. Need to relax? Do the opposite and take a deep, slow breath in and breathe out quickly. This small act of mediation will do wonders within those moments you feel like your mind is working on overdrive.

4. Take a Moment to Step Out. In a busy setting it’s normal to want your “space,” so take a breather from the social gathering if your anxiety is at an all time high. Excusing yourself to go to the restroom can provide those minutes of recovery without interruption that just might get you through the day. You don’t have to make the bathroom your escape, use any area where you feel good enough to settle your nerves.

5. Be a Wallflower. Let’s face it, sometimes you have to go to that big event and talk to lots of people even though you might not want to. When you are in those situations, be yourself. If leaning against a wall to observe what’s going on around you or listening to the conversation more than adding to it is what you want to do, do it. More often than not, there will be another wallflower like yourself who feels just as nervous in the situation. Make sure you don’t lose your confidence simply because you’re quiet; you have lots to offer just by being yourself. Don’t cheat yourself out of social situations just because you think you won’t enjoy them. So, be you and trust yourself as a contributing chica in the world.

 

Become a Time Management Guru

Life can be pretty hectic at times, especially as you get older and take on more responsibilities. However, there are some commitments and responsibilities that are more important than others. In order to be successful in whatever it is you are doing in life, whether it is getting through middle school, high school, college or even once you have a career, it is important for you to learn how to manage your time. Managing your time can be achieved if you know which steps to take.

1. Buy A planner

Using a planner to organize your tasks is a smart thing to do, especially when your schedule looks overwhelming. Remember to jot down each task and when it is due, or by when you should do it in your planner. Jotting everything down will ensure you’re on the right track with deadlines and assignments. You can always turn to your planner for reminders. Heather Marrone, Mission Early College student, says, “Keep calm. Everything gets out of hand when you think about it all at once. Just think about what you have to do that one day, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. If it gets hard to remember what you had then keep an agenda.”

2. Learn how to differentiate which tasks are most important:

The tasks that deserve priority are usually the ones in which we have made a commitment to or must do for our own good. An example of these committed and urgent tasks would be going to school, work and to tend to be other responsibilities similar to these. Heather says, “I’m very good at multi-tasking. I can divide my attention to several activities so that they all get done equally. I manage my time so I give an hour or two to do something and I list things by priority.” When it comes to schoolwork, learn how to prioritize your assignment and always remember to take a look at your planner in order to see which assignments are coming up. If there are two or more due at the same time, do the one that requires the most work ahead of time.

3.  Take advantage of weekends or free time to get things done:

The more things you have on your plate, the more things you have to do. Learning how to use free time, wisely is key in getting important things done. For example breaks between classes, when you are in college, can be used to catch up on reading or work on assignments that will be due soon. Also, on weekends when you have spare time you can get ahead by starting work. Find your peak productivity time to get the best results. If you’re a morning person, try working more during the morning when you’re more alert and full of energy to tackle school assignments. If you’re a night owl, try working during a reasonable time that will not interfere with your sleep schedule.

4. Work on assignments early

An all-nighter happens when you wait until the last minute to work on a project or assignment or class. Pulling all-nighters are both unhealthy and a sign to improve your time management. By working on assignments early, little by little, you can break up the workload. Use your planner wisely and plan ahead to avoid the pesky all-nighter.

5. Use productivity apps

If planners are not your thing because you’re more tech savvy, try using productivity apps. Productivity apps help your productivity skyrocket — at least if they’re used wisely. Kill procrastination by using apps that block sites you normally visit during the 5 minute break you took 30 minutes ago.

Time management is about perseverance. Find a method that works best for you and stick with it. In the end, it will be worth it.

Dealing with Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer has replaced heart disease as the leading cause of death among U.S. Hispanics. But no one can predict that they will have cancer – especially when it happens to their parents. It never is good to see a loved one hurt, but there are many things you can do to help you cope with them.

Hispanic girk looking sad

Latinas and Cancer

Recent studies have shown cancer to be a bit more prominent among Latina women. A 2007 study by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, compared the effects of breast cancer between Hispanic and non- Hispanic women with equal health care (Kaiser Permanente Colorado health plan). The study noted that “the results of this study confirm those of many previous studies that breast cancer presents differently in Hispanic women.”

The American Association for Cancer Research Conference in Carefree, Arizona had conducted early research in 2005 that shows 2/3′s of breast cancer in Hispanic women is discovered accidentally. Only 28 percent of Hispanic women have the means to check themselves though a mammography or clinical exams.

Iesha Romo, nursing student at the University of Texas at Brownsville, shared how her classes have showed her that Hispanic men and women are more likely to develop illnesses like diabetes and cancer. She said that through her clinical experiences as a student, she has been a witness to families of loved ones that are “hurt by the sight of being in a hospital.” Romo believes that “there is really no way to prepare yourself for when you have a sick parent. When it happens, only you will know how to best deal with it.”

Dealing with Cancer

The number one worry for parents is their children. When a parent is diagnosed with cancer it may bring stress for their children. You can help lessen these feelings of stress, anger or worry by letting your parents know how you are feeling. Hiding your feelings will not make everything okay. Don’t be afraid to ask your parent questions about their condition. Let them know you care and that you’ll be there for them.

Don’t blame yourself!

Never blame yourself for what they’re going through. It’s important for you to know that nothing at all is your fault. Ask questions and be updated with what’s going on. Make sure you understand how they feel also. Sometimes things look worse than they really are.

Become Informed

One of the biggest questions you might have is the extent of your parents’ illness. Familiarize yourself with all this information by asking to speak with their doctors or someone who can professionally inform you about their diagnosis and treatment. Don’t be afraid to go up to the doctor and ask what it means that your parent has ‘cancer.’ Ask them how it developed, and how it has affected your parent. What are they going to have to do differently? What can you do to help them? Doctors might also refer you to pamphlets, websites, and support groups as well.

It’s OK to Worry

It is evident that sometimes thoughts of worry might take over because your parent is sick. It is OK to worry. Try to talk to someone about these feelings. Confide in your friend, teacher, or counselor. No one knows how you are feeling – only you. And sadly, people who have never had to watch a loved one be diagnosed with cancer will not know how you feel. It is important to talk about what your feelings – whether it is anger, hurt, or confusion, because these emotions have the power to threaten your well being. Soon enough, these thoughts can take over your outlook on life, causing you to slowly detach yourself from your friends, family, and things you treasure in life. It is important to understand what you are feeling and that you are not to blame.

Keep Up with Your Daily Routine

Stay connected with your friends and keep up with school. Go back to your daily routine and don’t worry about having ‘too much fun or smiling or laughing while your parent has cancer. Sometimes it’ll make them feel better to see you enjoying life. Abby Mora, third year student at the Texas State University, believes that if a Latina faces the reality of a sick parent, “You have to realize that you have the power to help your parent, supporting them financially and emotionally.”

Take time to discover what you need and don’t let others tell you how you should be feeling. Really taking time to figure out what lifts your spirits during these tough times can make coping with the illness of a loved one a lot easier. Keep your head up, and remember that you are not alone!

Advice: A Familia without Drama

1. My mom and I fight constantly. She rarely lets me go out and I get good grades and don’t get into trouble, but she still doesn’t trust me. What should I do so I can have more freedom?

Photo courtesy from http://counsellingandmediation.com.

Set a time to talk through it with her.  Ask her what you can do to show her that she can trust you with more freedom.  Sometimes parents just have a hard time letting go and accepting the fact that their child is growing up and are becoming more independent.  Let her know that you still love her and will always be her little girl, but that you also want independence.  Good luck!

 

2. My mom and I don’t get along very well. I feel like she treats my sister a lot nicer than me. I’m the middle child, but she is lenient with my older and younger sisters. She will let them go out to the movies and hang out with friends, but gets mad when I ask.

I am the middle child, too. So, I can relate a little bit.  Communication is really important.  Sometimes it can be difficult, but politely ask her why you can’t go out and your sisters can.  It is important to be respectful because once you start raising your voice things can get messy.  It might seem like she treats them nicer, but you have to be honest with her and let her know that it hurts your feelings that she gets mad when you want to go out. She might not see or agree that she is treating her daughters differently, but there is an explanation for everything, just hear her out.

3. My sisters and I are always fighting. When the fights get really bad and we say really mean things, my mom gets more hurt than mad. My mom always says “what you do to her you do to me.” Why does she say that, if I’m only mean to my sister? How can I improve my relationship with my sister? 

Parents don’t like it when their children fight.  You are a family and your mother loves you and your sister.  She does not want to see you hurt each other and so when you say mean things to each other she probably feels it too.  If your feelings are hurt, her feelings are hurt too.  Talk it out with your sister.  Why are you two always fighting?  All siblings fight at times but it is important to realize that your fighting is hurting your mother and hurting your relationship with your sister.  Try talking it out with her and see what you both can do to get closer and fix things.

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