She may not speak much Spanish, but that's not stopping Camilla Rabjohns from reaching out to Peoria's growing Hispanic population. The education coordinator for Women's Services at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center stood behind a table covered with a variety of breast health handouts on Sunday morning, saying "hola" to everyone who walked into La Esquinita de Oro Mexican grocery store.

She may not speak much Spanish, but that's not stopping Camilla Rabjohns from reaching out to Peoria's growing Hispanic population.


The education coordinator for Women's Services at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center stood behind a table covered with a variety of breast health handouts on Sunday morning, saying "hola" to everyone who walked into La Esquinita de Oro Mexican grocery store.


Hispanic women and other minority women, Rabjohns said, are less likely to develop breast cancer than white women but are more likely to die from it.


"They don't know where to go for help or they are too scared to get treatment when they feel a lump," she said.


At first, most were hesitant to listen to Rabjohns, but she said offering gift cards in exchange to hear her out is the best way to get an audience. After she has their attention, they listen to her message and almost forget about the incentive, she said.


Rabjohns received a grant from the Susan G. Komen "para la cura" division, which translates from Spanish to "for the cure," to educate Hispanics and other minorities about breast health. She has been conducting neighborhood education fairs for about two years.


In 2007, Hispanics made up 3 percent of the population in Peoria County. That is an increase of about 33 percent since 2000, according to data from the Pew Hispanic Center.


"Going to the grocery stores in the areas where they live is the best way to reach them," Rabjohns said as a crowd began to gather around her table at Sunday.


She had each person fill out a breast health quiz, which was printed in Spanish, and then went over the correct answers. Most were surprised how little they knew about breast cancer and were eager to learn more about Peoria's available resources.


"I learned a lot of things I didn't know," said Maria Garcia of Peoria.


Garcia has two daughters at home, ages 15 and 18, and she was planning to come back to the grocery store with them so they could also fill out the survey and watch Rabjohns demonstrate the proper way to do a breast self exam.


Conducting monthly breast self exams is the first of three key points Rabjohns emphasized. She also stressed the importance of women getting an annual breast exam beginning at age 18 and also getting an annual mammogram starting at age 40.


Edgar Roman, whose family owns La Esquinita De Oro, was helping Rabjohns talk to the grocery store patrons and said he was surprised by how many people flocked to her table.


"Most people don't know a lot about this, and I think they are learning a few things," he said. "They are walking out of here surprised at what they didn't know."


Erin Wood can be reached at (309) 686-3194 or ewood@pjstar.com.