Penrose finds financial aid for uninsured breast cancer survivor


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For most of her adult life, Marta had been covered by health insurance. But after a divorce, she had to rely on temporary health insurance, which eventually ran out.

Working part-time, she couldn’t afford coverage through her employer, so she turned to an insurance broker for help, but still was unable to find an insurance plan she could afford. “I thought, ‘I’ll just take good care of myself and I won’t need it,’” Marta said.

Marta then moved back to her home in Manitou Springs from northern Colorado, where she helped her parents renovate their home. During this time, she was simply too busy to schedule regular medical checkups. It had been several years since her last mammogram, and she discovered a lump in her breast.

“I was completely freaking out because I found this lump and I had no insurance,” Marta said. Marta was referred to the Women’s Wellness Connection at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services for help.

“Two days after I found the lump, I called Penrose and they just happened to do free exams for uninsured and under-insured women on the third Thursday of every month. That was the following Thursday,” she said.

Diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer, Marta was connected to an Oncology Nurse Navigator who quickly reassured her about the procedures. Oncology Nurse Navigators are part of the continuum of care offered at Penrose Cancer Center, part of the Centura Health Cancer Network, delivering advanced, integrated cancer care across Colorado and western Kansas.

“My Navigator arranged to get me applications for grants and made me feel much better,” Marta said. “I received a grant and was also automatically put on Medicaid.”

Fortunately, Marta’s cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes, but because her doctors noticed warning signs of cancer in her healthy breast, Marta chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy.

She then received chemotherapy and hormone suppressors but did not require radiation therapy. One year later, Marta is healthy and grateful for the support, care and encouragement she received during her cancer journey.

“I had a wonderful surgeon and an amazing oncologist, and my Nurse Navigator couldn’t have been more remarkable,” she said. “Penrose took such great care of me.”

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