My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Arlington Free Clinic, Inc., Arlington, VA, USA
I have had many roles at the Clinic including patient, volunteer, and now I am on staff. The Clinic is a very important part of my life: the Clinic saved my life! I came to the US in 1999 with my husband. He was a telecommunications engineer, but in the poor economy his hours were decreased substantially. I was babysitting as well, making a low weekly salary, but we were still unable to afford health insurance for me. We kept insurance for my kids and my husband, but we decided to drop the insurance for me, because I had always been very healthy. Only 3 months later, while I was accompanying a friend who was an AFC patient to the Clinic, staff asked me if I had insurance. I was healthy, but they insisted I enroll because even though I was well, I needed an annual check-up. My first experience with the Clinic was taking a breast self-exam class. I discovered a lump and the Clinic responded immediately: it was cancer. I was 39 years old at the time.
My first thoughts were: no health insurance, no money in my bank account, and three little kids between 4- and 10-years-old. I was in shock. I just felt guilty for the entire situation, and I had no way of looking up. But from that first moment on, AFC coordinated all of my care: from my initial biopsy, to all of my appointments with oncologists & specialists, all of the medications I needed, surgery, chemo & radiation, and even for reconstruction. In addition to all of the professional services the Clinic provided, above all the Clinic gave me hope. Every time a test came back, the nurses managing my care gave me reasons for hope – I never felt that I was alone. The Clinic supported and encouraged my husband as well, because when you are sick it not only affects you, but those you love.
Today, I am cancer-free and grateful; the dictionary’s definition of “thank you” is far too small for what I feel. The Clinic gave me the opportunity to see my kids grow up into teenagers – one of my kids is in college today, and the younger ones will follow close behind! My kids saw everything that the Clinic did for their mom while she was sick, and watching this taught them about the way they should treat people: be open to helping others because you never know when you’ll need help during a period in your life, like I did.
As a way of giving back to the Clinic, I offered to volunteer. I volunteered for many years teaching the breast self-exam class in English and Spanish. I also counseled newly diagnosed breast cancer patients in an effort to help them through this difficult process. Now, I’m working and I have my own health insurance. Thank you Arlington Free Clinic: without you, I wouldn’t be able to tell this story.
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