Just two years ago, Julieta was at her annual check up at Samaritan House’s Breast Care Clinic when one of our volunteer physicians found a lump in her left breast. The staff at Samaritan House’s clinic referred her to Mills-Peninsula Hospital to get a free mammogram, but she put it off because she feared losing income from missing work and she didn’t want to disrupt her family. Sylvia Pratt, the Clinic Coordinator, and Eileen Lopez-Guerra, the Breast Care Clinic Coordinator, kept calling her, telling her how important it was that she get a mammogram immediately. When the shock of the news settled, Julieta remembered her sister, who died of breast cancer only three years prior. She went for her mammogram, which revealed what turned out to be a malignant tumor.
The hospital recommended that Julieta have the tumor removed immediately. However, Julieta, who was trying to hide her illness from her family so as not to worry them, put it off. She also didn’t know how she was going to pay for the surgery. Samaritan House clinic staff stepped in again, filling out all the paperwork she needed to qualify for a program that would cover it. Two months after finding out she had cancer, Julieta had the surgery to remove her tumor.
Unfortunately, her battle with cancer didn’t end there. Because the lump was very close to her heart, Julieta had to undergo chemo and radiation. The treatments made her very weak and she was unable to work. Her husband missed a lot of work as well, taking her to frequent doctor’s appointments, and their financial situation quickly declined. The kids were also worried about their mom and it showed in their school work.
Samaritan House was able to provide comprehensive support with the things the family needed to get through this difficult time, including produce and groceries, clothing for the children as well as toys during the holidays, ensuring Julieta’s children could have a joyful holiday season.
Today, Julieta is still recovering, but she says she’s getting stronger. Her doctor has said she can work up to four hours a day, so she is looking for ways to help support her family. In the meantime, Samaritan House continues to help, giving her family fresh produce and meat every month through the Family Harvest program.
Julieta is grateful for the support her family has received and wants to give back; she’s currently volunteering at a local high school and at a church afterschool program. Her kids are doing better too, “They can see Mommy is getting strong,” she says. When asked “What’s next for you?” she flashes a gorgeous smile and says, “Happiness.”
Because of you, we are able to make sure that hardworking families like Julieta’s get the essentials they need to live. And, because of you, we can provide crucial medical care and supportive counseling necessary to save lives like Julieta’s.
Make a gift today, and be the reason that we can keep saving lives, sustaining families, and supporting our neighbors in need on their path towards independence and a healthy, more prosperous future.