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Moffitt Outreach Worker Honored at White House

A community outreach worker from Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center was honored this morning as a  "Champion of Change" by the Obama Administration.

At the ceremony in Washington, D.C., Myriam Escobar described how she helps Hispanic women prevent breast cancer. 

"We start to make phone calls to them, we send them emails, we send them postcards until we make sure they have their mammograms," Escobar said. "We joke, and we say that we are the Tampa police of the mammograms, because we don't stop, we just keep calling and calling."

Escobar was one of eight people who were recognized for the work they do in their communities to improve public health. 

"We all know that health is much more than what happens to you in a doctor's office," said Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Health starts where people live, labor, learn, play and pray." 

Escobar works with the program "Yo me cuido," which means "I take care of myself."  Escobar delivers breast cancer prevention education around Tampa Bay. 

"We go wherever there is a group of women," Escobar said. "Wherever they are, we go." 

She said the need for prevention education is so important because Hispanic women are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages of cancer. 

"The community is waiting for these kind of programs...[in] the Hispanic community, the necessity is huge," Escobar said. "When we go to them and say 'buenos dias,' they open the door wide. They just want to hear what we have for them."

Lottie Watts covers health and health policy for Health News Florida, now a part of WUSF Public Media. She also produces Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show.