Hempstead hosts bilingual Breast Cancer Summit with goal of teaching women their medical rights

Doctors and survivors spoke about the battle for equitable health care at the bilingual Breast Cancer Summit in Hempstead on Friday.
The event took place at Circulo de Hispanidad at 7 p.m.
The key takeaways were about breast self-awareness and women knowing their rights to their medical records. Many women, especially in minority communities, are unaware that they are able to request their medical records.
Maria lives in Brooklyn but made the drive to Hempstead with her family to raise awareness.
In 2016, she felt a lump in her breast and went to several doctors, but she says no one was able to tell her what it was, and it was disregarded.
She went back a year later and was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.
Now she has Stage 4 breast cancer but is not letting that define her.
"I am here to make sure people understand, if it's a language barrier that they're entitled to also request someone else to come speak on their behalf, bring another doctor in to explain it," Marisa says. "Whether it's English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese; they shouldn't be afraid that they don't understand English either."
She says she wishes she knew she could request her medical records at the beginning.
Eleni Coffinas, a partner at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo, says everyone is allowed to ask for their test results and get them explained in their language.
"If you feel something, you know your body better than anybody else, if your mammogram is negative, you're allowed to get to a specialist to see what is going on," Coffinas says.
Dr. Angelica Hernandez, an OBGYN at Stony Brook University Hospital, says if every woman got screened, there would be lower incidents of cancer.
Marie hopes sharing her story could help other women on Long Island.