We are a peer-led, community-based network dedicated to advancing Asian women's health and wellness through
education, advocacy, and support

AWFH Newsletter | January 2020
2020: A year with AspirAsians!!

As I was giving an orientation to our newly hired program coordinator (welcome aboard, Ashley Yuen), I suddenly realized how much we have accomplished in the past 7 years!!

2019 was a year with innovative initiatives:
  1. From Resilience to Radiance” monthly podcast, produced and hosted by none other than our Awesome Audrey Paek;
  2. “MobilizAsians” - an online WeChat support forum for Chinese women living with breast cancer, which is funded by the Massachusetts Medical Society
  3. National HepB Foundation funded AWFH to identify key stakeholders and orchestrate a statewide effort in collaboration with APAMSA and organizations serving the Asian American communities.

Moving forward, we will continue using technology to maximize our reach while reducing cultural and language barriers. 
We aspire to launch the following new initiatives to build the confidence, capacity and connections of Asian women:
  1. Monthly socials that will take place on the 2nd Saturday every month (see the pictures and a short write up below for Jan Dumpling So Special event). RSVP for the Feb Potluck Hotpot here.
  2. EducAsians” - train peer health educators to provide point of care and heart health education at the Boston Public Market and Roxbury Tenants of Harvard
  3. ASSIST: Asian Sisters Supporting Individual Survivor’s Transformation” - a retreat to heal the mind, body and spirit of Asian cancer or trauma survivors

Please put the dates below on your calendar for our signature annual events, and let us know how you’d like to be involved:

Finally, our annual meeting will take place at Impact Hub Boston (50 Milk Street, Boston 15th floor) on Wednesday, June 17th from 6-8 p.m.  We’d love to see you there and hear your ideas about how we can advance Asian women’s health and wellbeing.

Stay healthy, stay connected!

Chien-Chi Huang

"I Didn't Think It Could Happen to Me"
Hi! My name is Ellie Nguyen. I am a 26 year old first-generation Vietnamese-American woman who spent a year with Asian Women for Health facilitating cervical health workshops. I led workshops on the risks of HPV (human papilloma virus) and cervical cancer among Vietnamese women, because they are 3 times as likely to develop cervical cancer. As a minor demographic, these rates are alarming. 
HPV can be prevented by using protection, along with regular testing and vaccinations for young women and femmes, depending on their age. Throughout my work and knowledge on the issue, I never imagined that I would be affected. In 2018, I went for a routine Pap Smear and received my results back that said I had “abnormal cells” present. Usually, this isn’t a reason to panic as it can go away on its own over time. Instead of testing every 3 years with normal results, I had to get another Pap smear in a year. 
In summer of 2019, I received abnormal results again which is followed up by a procedure called a “colposcopy” which allows doctors to get a closer look of your cervix. Turns out, I had high-risk cells (NOT cancer cells), which if left untreated over time would turn into cervical cancer.

Lastly, a few months after I had another procedure called a “LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure)”, which removes those high-risk cells from your cervix. This is mostly successful but includes close monitoring to make sure that the high-risk cells were removed.  

Despite all of the knowledge I had, my ability to successfully navigate through the healthcare system, and privilege to access that care that I need - I was still really terrified and dissociated from the process. I knew I needed to push through to follow up on testing and procedures but I can understand why patients may delay their processes. It was surreal to hear that I had high-risk cells. I couldn’t find the language to talk about it with my family so I felt isolated. I was caught up in work and life things, so I had to push these to the back of my mind until the time of my appointments. Luckily, all of my providers were supportive, thorough in explaining what the procedures were and none of them were particularly painful. They all took 10 minutes or less. 

I feel a huge relief for myself however I feel a surge to continue disseminating this information to Vietnamese women because cervical cancer is so preventable. Whether it’s due to stigma, lack of awareness, or lack of medical or communal support - we must break the barriers that prevent patients from receiving the care they need. 

What to know about HPV and HPV testing 

The human papillomavirus (HPV) test detects the presence of the human papillomavirus, a virus that can lead to the development of genital warts, abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer.

Your doctor might recommend the HPV test if:
  • Your Pap test was abnormal, showing atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS)
  • You're age 30 or older
  • The HPV test is available only to women; no HPV test yet exists to detect the virus in men. However, men can be infected with HPV and pass the virus along to their sex partners.
  • The HPV test is different from Pap Test (also called a Pap smear or Papanicolaou test), which checks for changes in the cells or your cervix that could turn into cancer over time. All women ages 21-65 should get a Pap test. You can get more info here 
From Resilience to Radiance: Episode #11
Living Beyond Cancer and Cultural Stigma / Breast Cancer

While the prevalence of women’s breast cancer varies significantly by race/ethnicity, an earlier age-onset of breast cancer incidence, specifically among Asian and Asian American women, have warranted more research and public outreach for early screenings and mammograms, and education on the risk factors.

In this episode, we follow the personal journey of one young cancer survivor and advocate, Jeannie Karkowski, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30.  In the face of stigmas and struggles with her bi-cultural identity, she discovered the power of her own voice, as well as a support network that has helped her to heal and contribute to the community. 

Additional Resources:
Jeannie's Bio:
Jeannie Aejin Choi Karwowski was born in South Korea and moved to the US with her family as a teenager. She married the love of her life at the age of 28. She was later diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30 as she was planning to have her first child. She endured many treatments (chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation) for nearly two years.  Jeannie is now on long-term hormone therapies and looking forward to leading a healthy and happy life. 

Jeannie actively participates in support groups for breast cancer, such as Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Lay Breast Health Advisors of Dana Farber Cancer Institute, to help promote young women’s health in her community. She recently completed the Project LEAD Breast Cancer Advocacy Training Program of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and participated as a rider for the first time in Tour de Pink East, hosted by the Young Survival Coalition. Nationally, she plans to continue participating in NBCC’s lobby day for breast cancer public policy advocacy and research panel reviews for the cure. In her spare time, she plays the piano and enjoys outdoor activities with her husband. With her degree in Biomedical engineering, Jeannie hopes to go back to school to find cures for breast cancer, serve cancer patients with love and compassion, and provide evidence-based guides and resources for patients and caregivers.

Please see links below to our podcast episodes:
Apple Podcast
1/11 Dumpling So Special
@Roxbury Tenants of Harvard

Thank you to everyone who joined us at our January social: dumpling making party on 1/11! We hope you all had a great time making these Chinese-style dumplings and meeting new friends! Click the button below and check out albums on our Facebook page to see more pictures! And please stay tuned for our upcoming events!
See more pictures
AWFH is Looking for Volunteers!!

We need help staff the table and conduct field surveys at the below events.
Please email to signup for am or pm shift:

Upcoming Community Events

Girlx Empowerment Career Night
Call for volunteers!!

If you are a woman (of color, if possible) working in Medicine, Science and Public Health-related fields who would be willing to share your stories and experiences to other young girls, please come join this Career Night under Girlx Only Leadership Program (GOLD) hosted by YWCA Cambridge on January 28, from 5:30-8:00 p.m. at Cambridge City Hall. 

This career night is mainly designed for middle schoolers in Cambridge/ Boston who identity with the struggles of girlhood, and will allow them to hear from professionals about their careers and life experiences through small group discussions to build self-confidence, intergenerational relationships, and positive femme and women professional role models.  

Please feel free to pass to your networks and to have interested parties directly contact: and phone number is: 617-491-6050 x 3035.

Date: 1/28 (Tue.)
Time: 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. 
Location: Cambridge City Hall
(795 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139)
Learn more about GOLD
What's Next for Boston Public Schools? 

Please join us for a conversation with the Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, on January  30, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. At this forum, she'll share her community-informed vision for the district.

Appointed in May 2019, Dr. Cassellius has visited all 125 schools in the school district and hosted well over 100 community conversations and town hall meetings.  The visits, conversations, and inputs have helped to shape her strategic priorities and budget recommendations for the coming school year. Dr. Cassellius will provide an overview of her priorities and plans, and a panel discussion will follow the presentation.

Date: 1/30 (Thu.)
Time: 8:30 - 10:30 a.m
P.S. Unfortunately, registration and the waitlist for this event have reached capacity. However, the event will be broadcast online. Click the button below for the live stream.
Join the live stream
Boston Girls Empowerment Network 
Girls Research Presentation

SAVE THE DATE for this year's Boston Girls Empowerment Network Workshop!
On 2/19, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m, BGEN and The American City Coalition (TACC) present you Girls Research Presentation. Pathways for Girls Study assesses the personal assets, resources, challenges, experiences, and interests of 14 to 21-year-old girls and young women of color from the Roxbury community.

Date: 2/19 (Wed.)
Time: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Location: Bolling Building (Boston Public Schools Headquarters), 6F Community Room
(2300 Washington St. Roxbury, MA 02119)
Research Study on Patient-Provider Relationships

Zara Ahmed, a student in the Kilachand Honors College at Boston University is looking for participants who are White or Asian Americans over the age of 18 to participate in this research study.

The purpose of this study is to explore patients' relationships with their primary care provider. Participants would be required to take this 5-10 minute online survey. The questions being asked will ask questions regarding a person’s relationship with their Primary Care Provider (PCP).  These questions will cover topics such as: trust, helpfulness, and accessibility of your PCP. All data collected will remain anonymous and will not be connected to the email provided for compensation. 

If you would like to participate in this study or have any questions about it, please email or call 203-824-3893 with any questions.
WeChat group for Chinese breast cancer patients, survivors and their love ones

AWFH is creating a WeChat Group for Chinese breast cancer patient, survivors and their care givers to share information and support one another.

If you are interested in joining or need more info, please email

Job Opportunities

Tech Goes Home is hiring a Program Manager

Federation with Children of Special Needs is hiring for part-time position 

HHS-Office of Adolescent Health has ORISE Fellowship positions available 

Boston Explorers is seeking Day Camp Counselor/Teen Program Leader

Boston Public Health Commission is looking for a full-time public health program coordination

Volunteer with AWFH

Asian Women for Health is always seeking volunteers to become part of our network! If you are interested, please take part in this brief survey. Your participation will help us match your interests to the various volunteer opportunities. We look forward to growing the AWFH network with your help!
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