Caroline Shermoen & Carolina Gomez Grimaldi
“What most stands out from my time working with La Liga Peruana Contra el Cancer is the people who we met and helped us along the way. While the research knowledge we gained was valuable, it was an ever greater privilege to talk with women in the community and see life from their perspective, all while working for an NGO comprised of passionate, service-orientated people dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer in Peru. I learned that culture, geography, and economics are extremely important to gain a deeper understanding of a person’s individual knowledge and attitude surrounding cancer and health in general. ” – Caroline
This photograph was taken at one of the mobile clinics we visited to conduct interviews with Liga patients. Liga owns several of these pink vehicles and rotates their location weekly to reach the many different need areas around the city. The clinics start around 9:00 AM and anyone can get screened for cervical and breast cancer for free. A line usually forms outside the truck as women wait for their turn. Several Liga employees were there to assist patients including a nurse who conducted the exams, a promoter who stands outside the truck to both sign people in and answer any questions, and another health care worker who enters the patient’s data and asks pre-screening questions. We personally visited two separate locations: Independencia and San Agostino. Liga coordinated a private car to drive us as some of the areas we drove through are not safe to people unfamiliar with the area.
Our days started around 8:00 AM and ended around 1:00 PM. Patients were informed about our research by one of Liga’s employes and given the option to talk with us. The variations in patient’s answers and eagerness to participate differed depending on their age, education, location, and other factors. Being able to talk with these women firsthand put context around the state of cervical cancer in Peru. All these interviews were conducted in Spanish which means we spent a lot of time afterwards translating them to English for future reference.
This is a picture of Carolina outside of La Universidad de San Martín de Porres (USMP) when we finally got our IRB approved! The Peruvian IRB process was lengthy and confusing at times, so we were so excited when we got our yellow folder of approval. This picture was taken in mid-June after waiting two weeks for the Ethics Committee to review our protocol, consent forms, and interview questions.
USMP’s Ethics Committee is where Liga does all their ethics reviews. It is located in La Molina which is only a 20 minute drive from Central Lima but takes around an hour to arrive in traffic (which is essentially all day in Lima). By the time we got approval, we had made the trip there and back many times to submit paperwork, pay the IRB fee, or adhere to other requirements. The day this picture was taken, the Peruvian National Futbol team was playing in the World Cup, so we ran into no traffic! It seemed the whole city had shut down to watch the game. Unfortunately they lost, but we were happy to start our research!
This is an image of one of the typical Peruvian dishes we ate. Meals usually were from a set menu consisting of rice with a vegetable or meat accompaniment and drink. One of our favorite parts of Lima was the variety of healthy food options as we both are vegetarian. It was a welcomed surprise that almost all the food had flavor for only a low price. At first we were surprised by the high quality of Peruvian food, but we quickly learned Lima is globally known as one of the best food cities in the world (Lima alone is home to 3 of the 50 best restaurants in the world). When we were not doing research, we spent a lot of time searching for restaurants to eat our next meal.
This specific picture was taken at a restaurant owned by a local family. Although it’s not shown in the photo, the meal also included keke or what we would refer to as a cakey bread. The restaurant doubled as a bakery and vegetarian restaurant and was tucked away in a quiet neighborhood. This was one of the first restaurants we tried in Lima, and it was a good culinary start to our trip.
On a typical day, we would wake up and make breakfast at our apartment. Lunch would usually be at a local vegetarian or vegan restaurant with a pre-set menu. For dinner, we would be a bit more adventurous and travel to different parts of the city. Some of our favorite memories involve people we met at restaurants and the food we ate. Sharing a good meal is something that defines Peruvian culture, and we were lucky to get a small taste of Lima and its people through the places we ate.