JERUSHA & AMANDA
Jerusha and Amanda met last year at a cancer support group at Texas Oncology. Both women were diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, both were without health insurance and both were scared. Amanda felt the lump before she got her mammogram but at the time she didn’t have the money to pay for a screening and she didn’t know there were any organizations that could help her. Money from her tax return finally enabled her to pay for her mammogram. Amanda already knew the results were not going to be good. The huge terrifying question that hung in the air when Amanda heard her diagnosis was “how are we going to pay for this?” Amanda has three children and a husband on disability. Every penny of her household income was already accounted for and Amanda did not know where the money to pay for medical bills was going to come from. Fortunately for Amanda, she was referred to the Breast Cancer Outreach Program at Community Action for financial navigation. The patient navigators helped her find programs to apply for that would provide her with financial assistance. Jerusha is a gradate student at Texas State University from Jamaica. She was diagnosed in October 2012 after receiving a free mammogram through the Pink Ribbon Campaign at CTMC. After hearing her diagnosis “I felt numb,” and she thought, “how much worse could this get?” She was unemployed, uninsured, and now she was sick in the United States when her family was in Jamaica. Jerusha was familiar with the Breast Cancer Outreach program because of the Pink Ribbon Campaign and through this program Jerusha got to know Keri, one of Community Action’s Patient Navigators. Jerusha says, “I had nobody” but Keri insisted on going to all of her appointments. “She was a really good shoulder to cry on.” Community Action, Inc. helped both women with money for gas, rent and food and provided hugs when necessary. Community Action Patient Navigators help guide breast cancer patients through a time in which they are overwhelmed with information, bombarded by doctors and are being shuffled from one appointment to another. Patient Navigators schedule appointments and keep track of all the patient information. Jerusha says they helped her chart her course through treatment and helped her to find a path that worked best for her. “They are a God-send.” Patient Navigators Lydia and Ana were in particular a major source of comfort to Amanda. As survivors themselves, they were able to discuss shared experiences and emotions. “It was a big boost,” Amanda says to know that “I too, will be okay.” Amanda says she wouldn’t have been able to go through the treatment and survivorship processalone. “It would have been a lot harder emotionally [without Community Action].” Currently, both women are in remission. As the two friends move forward Jerusha says that she is still scared, but at the same time she enjoys every moment of life that she can. Amanda and Jerusha have each other for comfort and support as well. When Jerusha seemed a little less than optimistic about her future, Amanda gave her some encouraging words. Amanda goes to Jerusha’s surgeries; Jerusha babysits Amanda’s kids and calls her to discuss fears, worries and life. “We’re like Thelma and Louise” Jerusha says fondly of her friend.