No one fights alone. Maria’s story is one of dozens of very dire, very complicated medical cases that come to the GRACE Community Clinic.

Sometimes the journey is long, uphill and coiled, with many merges and turns, with the end forever just over the horizon.

While no case is “routine”, most of the patients coming for help to the GRACE Community Clinic are seen by our volunteer medical professionals, treated, and scheduled for return visits.

But, when asked about “a complicated case”, Clinic Nurse Manager Shirley Roberts, RN, BAS, CCM, opens the chart to Maria A.

“Maria A. has been in our clinic for several years but we had not seen her since 2013,” said Shirley. Her last mammogram was performed on November 6, 2012. The results were normal.

She returned to the Clinic in late 2019. “We noticed a lump in her right breast. She said it had been there for about a month. We sent her for lab work and set her up for an appointment with one of our doctors.”

A diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound were ordered through Envision Imaging, one of GRACE’s many collaborating partners. The diagnostics revealed masses in both breasts—highly suspicious for neoplasm. Biopsies were recommended.

“Maria was referred to Kupferle Breast Center (another GRACE collaborator) but no grant funds were available for thee biopsies,” said Nurse Shirley.

Another GRACE partner, the Moncrief Cancer Institute, was contacted by GRACE and the biopsies were performed on October 28. The biopsies revealed breast cancer.

“I called Maria in,” said Shirley. “Our medical team and those from Moncrief discussed the diagnosis and her options with her.”

A referral was made to Carolyn Garner, MD, a Denton-based surgeon, for a breast cancer consult  shortly after. “We also gave her and her family information about JPS [John Peter Smith Health System] and Parkland systems,” Shirley said.

“Maria decided to have her surgery with Dr. Garner,” said Shirley. Her bilateral breast mastectomies were performed on November 19.

“Our GRACE team found her a recliner through The Healing Chair Organization,” Shirley said. “It was delivered prior to her surgery.” A “healing chair” is an electric reclining lift chair controlled electrically with hand-held controls and designed to embrace and support breast cancer patients during the healing process.

Community Clinic staff also assisted her in applying for a grant through Mimi Tran’s Me2 Foundation and Maria was granted funds to assist her with some of her surgical and treatment expenses.

After surgery, her treatment plan required her to see an oncologist.  After several tries with other agencies, GRACE found the Greater Dallas Arya Samaj (GDAS) Cancer Clinic in Richardson, an organization that provides oncology consultations and chemotherapy treatments for low income clients.

GRACE helped Maria get her port placement through Moncrief, and she has started her chemotherapy treatment at GDAS.

“We are helping with whatever ancillary services she needs,” said Shirley. GRACE has also partnered with Project Access to provide some additional diagnostic tests which are required every three months over the next year while she is in chemotherapy.

GRACE has also secured another resource through Cancer Care to assist with transportation expenses and other support services.

“We appreciate all of the wonderful community partners who have rallied behind Maria,” said Shirley. “And helped her along her journey.”

Sometimes the journey is long. But a friend with a guiding hand, and the strength to walk beside you, helps you see over the horizon.