Irene Lopez, mother of Rosa Alcazar (Spanish Interpreter at our Southeast Health & Dental Center), found a lump in her breast 2 years ago, and today, she shares her story!
“In my world, I think most people think the word cancer means death,” Irene said when talking about her experience.
After discovering the lump, her next step was to call her daughter, who then set up an appointment for an exam. Through HealthNet’s Mammography Assistance Program, Irene was referred to Methodist Hospital to get a mammogram.
Uninsured women are less likely to be screened for breast cancer, causing their risk of dying from the disease to increase by 20%.
Irene was lucky. Her aunt had battled with breast cancer before, so she was in the habit of performing self-examinations and getting regular screenings and mammograms.
HealthNet was just the beginning of the journey for Ms. Lopez, and it was the relationship between our health centers and local hospitals that eventually led to her recovery. After speaking with Rosa and being referred to Methodist Hospital for her mammogram, Irene’s biopsy was also done at Methodist, further tests were done with an oncologist, her surgery was done at Wishard, and Irene’s 30 radiation treatments were done at Indiana University Hospital.
“I was very scared, but I had a lot of signs telling me that everything was going to be okay. All of the support from the doctors, nurses, and staff, people who didn’t even know me helped me so much.“
Irene spoke about how she felt it was important for her to tell her story and to give her testimony so that others can learn from her experience. The reality is that most patients who visit community health centers are low-income and may even be living in poverty which can only add to the stress of going through a difficult battle with cancer. Many low-income women must choose between caring for themselves by getting regular screenings or getting regular check-ups for their children.
But HealthNet can help.
Irene was asked what she would say to any woman that may be starting their OWN journey with breast cancer, and her answer was this:
“Don’t be afraid. Sometimes it feels like the world is shutting down, but if you look around, there are many doors that are opening. Don’t ever lose faith in the doctors, nurses, or staff who are treating you, and with the support from your friends and family, you can make it through!”
Make a donation today that may help a woman in need gain access to a mammogram, visit our website and refer someone who needs direction to begin regular screenings, or simply spread the word on the importance of regular check-ups and mammograms. Together, we can break down ALL barriers keeping women from staying healthy.