Arlington Free Clinic Working in Your Community

Marlene at Race for the CureMarlene’s husband lost his job during the economic downturn of the early 2000s.  Since they had three little mouths to feed and Marlene had always been healthy, they decided to drop her health insurance to save money.

A couple weeks later, Marlene just happened to be at Arlington Free Clinic (AFC) – her friend, an AFC patient, needed a ride to an appointment.  While Marlene was waiting for her friend to finish up with the doctor, the receptionist encouraged her to sit in on the breast self-exam class being offered in the conference room.  That night, she felt a lump. She returned to AFC the next day and was given a referral for a free mammogram. A biopsy a couple of weeks later confirmed she had cancer.  She was only 39 years old.

Her first feeling was guilt. Her cancer was already advanced, but she hadn’t even realized she was sick. Now, she needed surgery and other expensive treatments that she couldn’t afford.

As soon as her cancer was detected AFC took Marlene into its medical home, but since everything was happening so fast she didn’t really understand what that meant: AFC was going to get her mastectomy, chemo, radiation, medication and reconstruction all donated. She only had to worry about getting better. In addition to top-quality medical care, the team at AFC would be giving Marlene and her whole family hope and confidence throughout her entire treatment process.

That was over 13 years ago. For Marlene, that meant 13 years of being a mom and being there for soccer games and birthday parties – getting to watch her children grow up. Today, she has a full time job with benefits and two kids in college with one more headed there next year. She credits the support of the Clinic for opening doors of opportunity for both her and her family, and says: “you have to look behind the patient to see all of the people the Clinic touches.”