For a young, uninsured, 37-year-old mother of two boys, the last thing on Juana Villegas’ to-do list was to follow up on her doctor’s referral to get a mammogram. She had been struggling with persistent pain in her left arm and breast for over two years, but the fear of receiving bad news coupled with the fact that she had no insurance prompted her to cancel her mammography appointment not once, but twice. “I was afraid of what the findings would be, and even worse, I was afraid to go somewhere that accepted uninsured patients for fear of being seen by under-qualified or inexperienced doctors,” she said. Since her physician went to The Rose herself, Juana felt reassured.
She arrived at the Rose, and as Juana feared, the area in her left breast was cancer. Three of the calcifications found in her left breast tested positive for cancer. “I held her hand tight and began to pray,” Juana’s mother Emilia said, “when you hear the word ‘cancer’ you think of death.”
Regardless of the dark moments ahead, Juana fondly recalled how much The Rose and its staff amazed her. From Dr. Dixie Melillo’s detailed explanation of everything and her constant reassurance that all would be okay to her Patient navigator, Maria Linares, who shared her own breast cancer experience and arranged for her treatment. All gave Juana an invaluable peace of mind.
Juana exemplifies so many of our “sponsored” women. She is an uninsured, low-income, working woman with dependent children and was referred to The Rose by a physician.
Now looking back as a two-year breast cancer survivor herself, Juana looks vibrant, happy, but more than anything grateful. “I can’t thank y’all enough,” she said during her interview with her mother by her side who reached over to hold her hand. “I tell everyone, if you notice something wrong, run to The Rose,” her mom said, “you won’t only receive assistance, but counseling.” That’s why she calls us “La Rosa Grande” (The Big Rose), because The Rose helped save the life of her beautiful daughter, and for that, she is eternally grateful.