By CHRIS LaFORTUNE
Leonila Magalued discovered a painful lump in her left breast in July 2013, but thought it would be months before she could get a mammogram done to help determine if she had cancer.
Uninsured and caring for her 91-year-old mother, the Bolingbrook resident had no way to pay for a mammogram. All that was left, she thought, was to wait until October, when local hospitals might offer free mammograms during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Fortunately, Magalued learned about the Open Arms Breast Cancer Outreach Fund at her doctor’s office. She gave the HinsdaleImaging Center a call.
“I told them my problem and I told them that I didn’t have any insurance,” Magalued said. “They told me not to worry about it and that if I needed help right now, they’d take care of it.”
Magalued scheduled her mammogram, in so much pain that she had trouble finishing the exam. An immediate biopsy was scheduled. Doctors discovered she had already reached Stage 3 cancer, and Magalued entered treatment immediately, undergoing a mastectomy in October 2013.
“If I had waited a few more months, I would have been at Stage 4,” she said. “I am so thankful Open Arms was there.”
The Open Arms Breast Cancer Outreach Fund was inspired by the imaging team at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and established at the Hinsdale Hospital Foundation in 2011. It sustains programs that support breast cancer patients and their families. Thanks to the fund, about 100 women have received mammograms they could not have afforded. Of them, three have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have undergone or are receiving treatment.
“The hard work by our imaging staff, as well as the support of the community, has helped to remove some of the barriers standing in the way of women in need who seek a mammogram,” said Michael J. Goebel, chief executive officer at AdventistHinsdale Hospital.
The Oak Brook Park District is a major donor to the Open Arms Fund, contributing $16,000 in proceeds from its annual Pink 5K over the past two years. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, May 10.
Other support for Open Arms has come from dueling piano venue Howl at the Moon, which donated more than $20,000 in 2013. The hospital Foundation’s Paint the Town Pink program has also supported Open Arms.
The community backing has been immensely important. A mammogram can cost about $400, said Sandra Mueller, director of Experience Excellence with Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. Patients often need follow-up studies or biopsies, which are also costly.
“We wanted to offer a program where we could tell patients, ‘You have a need, and I have a way to help you right now,’” Mueller said. “That’s how this was born.”
Women are referred to Open Arms through the hospital’s central scheduling team, as they make outreach calls to the community. Calls for help also come from patients, as in Magalued’s case.
Once Magalued received support from Open Arms, staff with the Adventist Cancer Institute helped her find ways to pay for her treatment. Magalued is finishing up her chemotherapy and will soon see whether additional therapy is necessary. She continues to fight on, for her mother and her two adult daughters.
“I don’t have grandchildren yet, and I want to be around to see them,” Magalued said. “That’s why I keep fighting.”
Submitted by Adventist Hinsdale Hospital