In a small, workshop off the main road leading to Masaya, Nicaragua, Francis Cano Gutierrez sits behind a bench and every few seconds, she kicks the flywheel with her bare feet to keep the clay spinning as she shapes it with her hands. It’s hard not to break a sweat; it’s August and the heat and humidity are in the 90s.
Francis works seven days a week making intricately-designed bowls, plates and vases – a trade she began learning when she was 11 years old. She comes from a long line of strong and hardworking women, but the effects of silent chronic diseases such as breast and cervical cancer have devastated her family.
Her grandmother, the matriarch of the family, died of a massive hemorrhage from cervical cancer. Less than six months ago, Francis’ aunt died from the same disease. Because of a lack of education and access to health care, their cancers went undetected until it was too late.
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