Greater Lawrence Family Health Center Reports ‘In Pink’ Success; Honors Gomez-Ruiz

Attorney Zoila M. Gomez-Ruiz receives the 2022 Rosalyn Kempton Wood Award for Inspirational Leadership from Dr. Guy L. Fish, president and CEO, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. (Courtesy photograph.)

For 12 years Greater Lawrence Family Health Center’s “In Pink Brunch & Comedy Show” has raised money to support women’s health care.

The annual event this year again was called a big success with all proceeds going toward the Health center’s programs that help an underserved population. The Lawrence area has the highest detection of cervical cancer rates in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, said Dr. Guy L. Fish, president and CEO, noting there is a high no-show rate for mammogram appointments.

“We have to get serious about taking better care of the women in the Merrimack Valley,” Fish said.

In Pink also paid tribute to cancer survivors in attendance and presented attorney Zoila M. Gomez-Ruiz with the 2022 Rosalyn Kempton Wood Award for Inspirational Leadership. The award honors the memory of Wood, a philanthropist and longtime friend of the health center whose generosity helped ensure women in need throughout the Merrimack Valley received basic and critical health care.

“Gomez-Ruiz exemplifies the spirit of the award. A tireless advocate for immigrants, she is passionate about giving back to the community that helped her become an attorney and giving a voice to those in need of help. Gomez-Ruiz came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1999 and has dedicated her successful career to helping immigrants who would never have been able to afford a good lawyer,” the Health Center said in a statement.

She said it is important for her to make her mark as a member of the community who is helpful and useful.

“I had opportunities when I came to this country,” she said. “And, I think every person that comes to this country deserves to have the same dreams and the same opportunities and to go after those dreams.”

Julie Johnston, family physician at the Health Center said women and people of color are impacted more heavily with health burdens. Health care too often falls to the side as women take care of their children and spouses and carry out the numerous day-to-day tasks for their families.

“Women are central to families and communities and without excellent care for these critical members everything can fall apart,” Johnston said. “Preventative care is especially important.”

She said there are success stories among her patients who came in for appointments when they noticed a bump or a lump. For these women, their early cancer diagnosis may have been life-saving.

“No concern is too small for your doctor to hear about,” Johnston said. “This is the medical equivalent of ‘if you see something, say something.’”

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