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Photo gallery showcases Breast Cancer Research project in Santa Maria

Posted at 12:07 AM, Sep 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-16 11:49:05-04

A 2-year-long Breast Cancer Research Project was on display at the Santa Maria Public Library on Friday.

Two years ago, local researchers went into the community with the non-profit Corazon Del Pueblo to find out what the community’s health concerns were in Santa Maria.

Researchers learned that breast cancer was at the top of the list for local residents.

The Breast Cancer Research project in collaboration with the non-profit Corazon Del Pueblo and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo looked further into breast cancer risks in local neighborhoods in Santa Maria.

This project was designed to raise awareness about health issues, create educational programs and help create new health-related policies.

“The completeness of the study really is heartwarming because you can see just how the community has poured their souls into the work,” said Dr. Mario Espinoza-Kulick, Cal Poly Center for Health Research Senior Project Investigator. “I mean not just the researchers that have done the research and the collection of the data, but the actual participants who allowed people into their lives, trusted them with their narrative, and put them on display at the Santa Maria Public Library.”

Marilyn Tseng, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Associate Professor, says community research associates documented the daily activities of mother-daughter pairs within the Fairlawn and Tijuanita neighborhoods.

Researchers say that the neighborhoods that were analyzed in Santa Maria act as shields for breast cancer risk.

“The overall goal was to understand how women use their neighborhoods and ultimately we’d like to see that people have power to shape their neighborhoods and shape it in a way that’s best for their health and well-being.”

Participants in the study were asked to take photos of their life events that represented who they were.

“This is important research that is going to be published and documented, like your voice matters. We all matter and it’s especially important to see that in older Latina women,” said Evelyn Ornelas, Corazon Del Pueblo Creative Arts Manager.

Espinoza says the purpose of the photo-voice gallery is to encourage residents to advocate for more equitable health policies that can increase the quality of life in Santa Maria.

“It feels like really great seeing like the whole outcome because it did take about 2 years and the final result I feel like it’s totally worth it and then like people just looking at the work that I did,” said Andrea Alcudia, Breast Cancer Research for Latina Women in Latin Communities, Research Associate. “It feels like a great accomplishment.”

A second part to this study is aimed at getting more funding from the state of California to research additional health concerns of women in Santa Maria.

If you’re interested in participating in their study's survey to share your responses about where you spend your time, how you feel about things, and your health behaviors, contact Dr. Mariyln Tseng at You may qualify for a $20 compensation if you’re a Latina, between the ages of 15 through 55, and live in or around Santa Maria.