Argentina is known worldwide for its delicious asadas, skilled cowboys, and its beautiful pampas, but medical researchers know it’s also a cancer hotspot with a disproportional number of breast cancer deaths.
That latter fact is what is motivating a South Texas woman into the business of selling handmade leather from Argentina in an effort to get more people to screenings.
Sylvia Kampshoff visits the South American country each year and has both a mother and mother-in-law diagnosed.
“If you detect it early, you can heal it. It has a huge positive impact,” she said while explaining how this new business, PATA Life, came to be. “Every time I would come back with at least three bags, and everybody starting at the airport asks ‘Where did you get the bag?’”
She would give many away, but realized that the quality handmade leather bags could sell in the U.S., and serve another purpose.
Each time she sells one, money goes toward a woman in Argentina who gets a mammogram.
She’s teamed up with the Austral University Hospital in Pilar, Argentina to get needy women through the door to find out their breast cancer status, which can be their first brush with modern medical care.
“It’s not just the mammogram. If you find something, you have to do a second ultrasound or mammogram, and then once something is detected then they will pay for it. The state will take over,” said Kampshoff.
When Kampshoff returns to Argentina this November, she expects to have helped 200 women already to get the diagnostics we take for granted.
She says it’s just the beginning of what she hopes will one day be a worldwide program.