Carolina*, 59, lives with her family in Los Angeles. A few months ago, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, which has spread to her lymph nodes. A course of chemotherapy has left her with fatigue, and she has difficulty walking any distance or bending down. Although she has a wide circle of supportive family and friends to help keep her spirits up, she has been experiencing anxiety and depression, though this is being eased by an anti-depressant medication prescribed by her doctor.
“My husband spoke with the health coach first on the telephone. I was too sick to talk to her. I didn’t want to talk with anyone. She first came to see me about two months ago. She was very nice, a good person. I thought she was going to tell me, ‘Don’t worry, things happen, you’ll be ok’, but she came to give me options, to tell me that there are things that I can apply for to help me. Real, practical information. She explained that there is help that I can get – I didn’t realize I could get benefits. And I would never go ask for welfare. So she provided me with information about Project AngelFood. Now they bring me lunches for 7 days, once a week on a Tuesday. And it’s free!
“And she gave me information on how to get a handicap license for my car. I have that now and it’s been very good because it was costing me $15 to park every time I went to the doctor. And once I start radiation treatment after I have a mastectomy then I have to go every day. I could not afford $15 every day.
“I had some cleaning help too – Merry Maids. They came in for 4 months, once a month, for free. They did a great job. For those first two months I couldn’t do anything, so everything was getting very dusty and I couldn’t do the bathrooms. I was very independent, and then I couldn’t do anything. That’s why I got really anxious and depressed. That’s when I wanted to give up. But now I feel better. I’m able to clean up the house, and shower.
“Having someone come to my house and explain things – that was amazing. I have never heard of anyone having someone sent by their health plan to see what help they need. I was really surprised. And I can talk to the health coach in Spanish, which is better for me. There were things I needed but I had no idea how to get them. That’s why these services are so important.
“My health plan has been very good. Everything has been very smooth. There have been no problems no, ‘Call here! Call there!’ And I’m very grateful for Obamacare, because otherwise I wouldn’t have insurance. It’s saved my life. Every time I go to the doctor now I get treated well.
“My family and friends have been very good. I have a lot of people who come to see me. I’m very lucky. A lot of people don’t have that.”
* Not client’s real name