“We just don’t think it could happen to us, or that it only happens to older women,” said Pablo, who’s 37 and recently battled breast cancer.
Clara Pablo is a music executive who has been “living the dream” when it comes to working with top Latino talent, from Ricky Martin and Shakira to Carlos Vives, CNCO and Maluma.
Yet Pablo, 37, a marketing executive for Walter Kolm Entertainmentand a former Univision director of talent relations, has been involved in her most personal and important campaign to date — spreading the word about the importance of breast self-exams and routine checkups after she was diagnosed and was treated for breast cancer.
Pablo used the power of social media to launch her own campaign, “Te Toca Tocarte,” meaning “it’s time to touch yourself,” inspired by her blogger friend Nalie Augustin’s breast self-examination video “Feel it On the 1st.”
“I wanted to replicate Nalie’s campaign to the Spanish market, and tell women that early detection is key,” Pablo said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the number one cause of death in Latina women, particularly women under 40.
For Pablo, Latino communities don’t have enough conversation about cancer despite of how much it affects them.
“There’s so much shame, not enough awareness in the Hispanic community. We just don’t think it could happen to us, or that it only happens to older women,” she said. “We have to change the stigma because, yes, it can happen to anyone.”
With positive spirits and over 101K Instagram followers, Pablo has helped raise awareness among Latinos.
The campaign encourages women to put their hand on their breast to do a self-exam, and take and post a photo using the hashtag #TeTocaTocarte on the first of every month and tag others to do the same — hoping to show that self examinations can be simple. The campaign also seeks to encourage women of all ages to get a mammogram, get tested for the hereditary BRCA gene and communicate with others.
Spanish on-air talents such as Evelyn Sicaros, Carolina Sandoval and Clarissa Molina posted selfies in solidarity with the cause. Even Puerto Rican-pop singer Luis Fonsi (“Despacito”) and his wife, supermodel Águeda López, showed support for their good friend during her appointments, even after she finished her radiation.
It was in August of 2017 that Pablo felt a lump on her right breast while watching television.
“I was immediately alarmed,” Pablo said. “I texted my gynecologist, went in to see him the next morning, and within the week I was getting a mammogram and ultrasound,” she told NBC News. “I remember the lady doing the ultrasound, just seeing her face change.”
After a biopsy at the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida, the doctor told Pablo they had found a stage 1 tumor in her breast. She was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), a common type of breast cancer last summer.
“It felt like somebody had just punched me in the gut, really hard,” Pablo recalled.
Although she has two aunts who are cancer survivors, the thought of having breast cancer had not really crossed Pablo’s mind.
Pablo traveled regularly for work and was in the middle of planning a trip to visit her boyfriend’s family in Europe.
“One week, I was planning this trip, and the next, planning how my entire life had suddenly changed,” Pablo said. “The timing of it all was poetic — it showed me your life could change in any second.”
On Oct. 1, 2017, Pablo commemorated the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by posting a a photo on Instagram to announce her cancer diagnosis. Within 48 hours, the post went viral.
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