When Carolyn was but 38 years old, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had a hysterectomy that luckily saved her life. Just a few years prior, she had given birth to her daughter, whom she raised alone because her ex-husband passed away from cancer. In addition, her father, sister and brother-in-law also passed away from cancer. It is no wonder, then that today, Carolyn is terrified of the possibility that she is next on cancer’s list. Cancer swept over her family, saving only her mother, who survived breast cancer twice, only to pass away in her sleep from a broken heart after losing her husband and daughter to this disease. As a self-employed worker who does not have insurance, Carolyn says her biggest fear used to be, “who is going to take care of me if I get sick? There’s so much sickness running in my family, and I am at a high risk for getting cancer again… it just scares me.” Carolyn admits that when she used to get sick, she wouldn’t do anything about it, simply because of her lack of options without insurance. She says that only when she got extremely sick would she go to an urgent care clinic to pay for services out of pocket. Almost 8 years ago, Carolyn was living on a limited income and raising her daughter when she started to realize that her heart was beating strangely. She was also uncharacteristically skinny, so she called social services, but they denied her and told her to contact Alliance Medical Ministry.
Carolyn found out, via diagnosis from Dr. Joyner, who has been her doctor the entire time she’s been a patient at Alliance, that she had a thyroid disease. “I probably would have had a heart attack,” says Carolyn, “or some other serious effects from the disease… or I could have even died if I had not found Alliance.” With all of the sickness in her family, Carolyn is terrified that some health issue will debilitate her. “It gives me peace of mind to know that I can get things checked out,” she says, “when I’m afraid that something is wrong with me, I can come here and they check it out for me.” Carolyn has been checked for diseases that run in her family, as well as others, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. “Without this place to get checked out,” Carolyn states, “I would have been terrified that I would die.” In dealing with so much loss in her family, Carolyn began having anxiety attacks. “Dr. Joyner put me on a medicine to help with the anxiety and to cope with what was going on.” She also visited the pastoral care and counseling; “I wish I would have gone more. They were so helpful. The lady I talked with hit on things I hadn’t thought of. It was amazing.” Carolyn says that she wishes she had access to more preventative care when she was younger, advising to others that, “preventative care is important because it can help you to not get illnesses in the first place. Something can be brewing that you could get rid of, but if you don’t get the care in time, that could be it.” This is why Carolyn says Alliance is so important to her, “I really have a reason to care about this place,” she says, “because this place saves lives. I can only speak for myself, but it saved mine.”