First you cry. Fear sets in as you lie in bed and think of your future. Will you have one? How do I tell my husband? How do I tell my children? How can I get through this? Why me?
Your body changes. You look in the mirror and no longer see the same woman. He walks in and you grab a towel. You hide. Don't look at me. I'm ugly. Don't touch me. Keep away.
He takes the towel aside, kisses the breast that is no longer there. He touches your cheek, turns, and walks away. You won't be okay for your life has changed forever, but you will go on. You have love on your side.
The doctor gives you the update. You release the breath you didn't realize you had been holding for months. You will live to see your grandchildren grow up.
One of my dearest friends, Paulie, was the lucky winner of two tickets to the cancer ball. She has an amazing faith in a God bigger than life itself, and the love of a wonderful husband who carried her through it all when she could not carry herself.The link below is a tribute to women who have survived cancer. It is well worth watching and what prompted the writing of this blog. I do hope you will watch it before reading the remainder of this blog.
Three years ago, I found a lump in my breast. The day I went for the testing that could have changed my life forever, Paulie showed up to be there for support. Being single, she wanted me to know someone cared, someone loved me enough to offer a shoulder if the news was bad, or a celebratory hug if the news was good. Thank you was not enough to express how I felt, but just having here there by my side meant everything to me.
For most women who live in the streets there are no friends, there are no Paulie's to hold your hand when your afraid. There are no such things as yearly exams, or even self-examinations. If they even find a lump it is often to late for medical treatment.
What happens to any type of medical care when you live in the streets? Where do you get your insulin? Your high blood pressure medicine? What about heart conditions? How are these treated? In Los Angeles, it's at the Weingart Center for Community Health.
With some insurance plans each time you go in to see a doctor, you never see the same one twice. You're just a number, a dollar sign, not a person with problems that may go deeper than a stomach ache or a even a lump in a breast. Not at The Weingart Center for Community Health.
If you live on skid row, The Weingart Center for Community Health, a state of the art comprehensive health facility, wants you to have a Paulie in your life too. Therefore at skid row's only health clinic, your doctor will be the same from the first visit to the twelfth, even the fiftieth visit. You will have the comfort of knowing that someone cares. You won't have to repeat your medical history to everyone you see.
If you need blood work, there are labs on site. If you you need an x-ray, machines are on the premises. Heart problems? There are specialists on staff. Dental work can be taken care of. Glasses can be prescribed, and the worries of no care for ill health can be put aside.
You are offered a personalized plan to a life free of the enslavement of addiction. If you need help to get through this traumatic time in your life, the same psychologist will see you each time you come in. The list goes on.
But most importantly, at the Weingart Center for Community Health, you are not a bum. You are not a vagrant. You are not an alcoholic, nor a drug addict. You're not even homeless. You are someone who matters. You are someone with a name. You are a Ruth. A Caleb. A Jessie. You are a person who deserves to be cared for with respect, compassion and love. All you have to do is walk through the door, and let The Weingart Center for Community Health be your Paulie.