Having Cancer While Poor

Poverty's impact in a fight against cancer

Dora Arias feels she was lucky after her 2003 breast cancer diagnosis. She had insurance, a support structure and — although she was born in Colombia — speaks fluent English. But, she thought, if it was that difficult for her to overcome cancer, then how difficult must it be for people who aren’t as fortunate as her?

“The poor have a totally different battle when it comes to breast cancer,” said Arias. “Let’s talk about women who clean houses. Or nannies. They don’t have the luxury of insurance or the luxury of having a disability — they have to work.”

The cancer survivor now works as a patient advocate, offering guidance, support and education to women with breast cancer.

“There’re so many programs out there for the poor, but they’re not connected, and that’s what we try to do — form that link.”

Arias’ revealing story is the latest in a series of intimate video profiles from PBS and Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies about the impact of cancer on countless lives.

You can join the conversation and share your story of cancer today by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter using #CancerFilm. You can watch more profiles like Dora’s on The Producers’ Blog.

Video produced by Redglass Pictures for PBS and Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.H

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