Patient Stories 

Trinitas Breast Health and You Program

Amelia attended a Breast Health and You Program at her local church last April. She had recently noticed changes and pain in one of her nipples, and these developments had caused her to be alarmed. She had heard about the workshop during the church announcements in the weeks prior, and she knew she had to attend. Amelia listened attentively to Ms. Aguirre’s program and quickly pulled her aside after the session for a private consultation. She explained her situation to Ms. Aguirre, and asked if it would be safe to wait the extra year until she would be eligible for Medicare. Since she was symptomatic, Ms. Aguirre explained that she needed to act immediately. She promised to walk Amelia through the insurance paperwork and scheduled her for an immediate appointment.

Amelia’s story is an excellent example of how Komen funding removes barriers to care for local underserved women. By covering a significant portion of Ms. Aguirre’s salary, Komen funding allows Trinitas to continue our Breast Health and You Workshops.

These workshops dramatically increase the availability of practical, reliable and life-saving breast health information to the women who need it most. The low-income, uninsured and underinsured women of our community need to know that there are lifesaving services available to them. Through this Komen-funded program, we are able to spread this critical information to the community and dispel the fears of women who live on the margins of society.

This is especially important to the thousands of undocumented women who live in Elizabeth. Since many of our workshop participants have limited literacy and education, our staff connects them directly with NJ CEED and/or walks them through the insurance process to make sure that mammograms and diagnostic testing are covered. Women who require navigation through diagnostics and treatment are then referred to the Trinitas Breast Cancer Navigator, a position that is also funded through Komen, North Jersey.

As promised, Amelia came to the May 4th NJ CEED screening event at Trinitas, just two weeks after attending the workshop. She was given a free breast exam and mammogram. In the meantime, Ms. Aguirre enrolled Amelia in Medicaid to make sure that she would be covered for any additional diagnostics and treatment going forward.

Amelia’s mammogram uncovered an abnormal finding. Ms. Aguirre worked with Trinitas’ Breast Cancer Navigator to ensure timely follow-up diagnostics. Unfortunately, the biopsy revealed that Amelia did have breast cancer. The lump was surgically removed within several weeks and she is currently in treatment. We are pleased to report that Amelia is responding well to treatment and we are cautiously optimistic about her prognosis.

She is very grateful for the assistance that has been provided to her by Komen North Jersey and Trinitas.

Breast Cancer Emergency Aid Foundation

A patient/recipient of assistance from BCEAF sent the following note:

“The mortgage is paid thanks to your generous donation of $599.00, makes me very happy. Cancer takes everything, but this made things a lot better”

Another patient wrote: “Thank you so much for making the burden a little easier! I am grateful to still be here and really appreciate your kindness and generosity.”

Cancer Care

Donna* is a 36-year-old African American single mother of a two-year-old boy. Upon her diagnosis of Stage III breast cancer in summer 2015, she contacted the American Cancer Society (ACS) for help. Because she was struggling financially, ACS referred Donna to Cancer Care’s financial assistance program. A Cancer Care social worker helped her apply for a Susan G. Komen grant for transportation to treatment from her home in

Newark, and she was quickly approved. Donna was also enrolled in the Magnolia Meals at Home program, through which several nutritious meals were delivered to her for herself and her son. Donna is extremely grateful to Cancer Care and the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Affiliate for the help she received when she needed it most.

Hoboken Family Planning

Hoboken Family Planning has found 4 Breast Cancers this year with this funding for additional diagnostic screening that might not have been found if this funding were not available. The other 60 patients who received diagnostic testing through this grant funding had the stress of thinking they might have breast cancer relieved giving them peace of mind in knowing that the abnormality they have is not breast cancer.

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center

Ms. A was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in June 2013 when she was 23 years old and was found to be BRCA+ and had a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy. The SW continued to provide support, counseling, and referrals to community resources. Ms. A recently called because she hasn’t had her port flushed in over a year, due to a lapse in insurance coverage. The SW navigated Ms.A through Charity Care and Medicaid. When Ms. A arrived for her follow up appointment, she told the MD that she was recently admitted at another hospital for shortness of breath. She was found to have metastatic breast cancer to the lung in addition to being 4 months pregnant with twins. The SW provided support, counseling, and guidance as she processed her diagnosis and medical options. Ms. A decided to continue with the pregnancy and is receiving chemotherapy. Ms. A is from Africa with little family or social support. Her boyfriend lives in NY due to his job. The SW provided continuous emotional support and counseling to Ms. A as she was nervous and anxious about starting chemotherapy again and also anxious about the health of her unborn babies. The SW has met with Ms. A at the High Risk OBGYN at NBIMC to provide support. The SW assisted Ms A in filing an expedited claim for Social Security Disability and provided referrals to community resources. The BCSW wrote a letter for Ms A’s mother to obtain emergency visiting visa to provide assistance to her daughter during this difficult time.


Our program was doing outreach at a health fair this past year, many individuals were educated and encouraged to apply to the program for breast screening services. We met two Hispanic sisters that have never had a mammogram and are over 40 years old. Like most women, they have been consumed with family responsibilities and putting the needs of their children first. They were both enrolled in the CEED program and with the help of our bilingual lay navigator; both women have been able to go for breast screenings. Without this program both sisters might have never gone for breast screening, as they were not aware of the program and of course the language barrier that they experience every day. Another positive side of this story was that they have now been referring other individuals to the program that also have not had any breast screenings in the past.

Overlook Medical Center

One patient expressed her sincere gratitude for the Komen grant as she had insurance and then lost it in the middle of incomplete imaging exams. The patient had reached out to the Breast Center Navigator expressing concern as to how she may not be able to move forward in completing the rest of the required imaging studies. The patient does have strong family history on both sides of her family. With the Komen funding, patient was able to have the MRI requested by the radiologist to assess the findings seen on her mammogram which resulted in a biopsy. Patient was extremely pleased with the attention and follow-up care of the Breast Center and even more pleased that there was funding available from Komen in order for her to complete her care.

Project Self Sufficiency

We had a woman who attended our last mammography van in March. She found out about Project Self-Sufficiency when she was looking for support services after moving to America after years of living in Italy. At first, a mammography was last on her priority list. When she attended a group informational session to learn about all PSS has to offer, she saw the flyer about the free mammography’s being held on March 31st. She felt such a relief because she never imagined it would be that easy. She explained that healthcare in Italy was for everyone and it was very easy to just go and get a preventative service. In America, she feared that her health would deteriorate simply because she could not afford health insurance. She ended up qualifying and coming to get her mammography. She was one of the women that received a call that follow up testing was necessary. Through the breast health programs full continuum of care, she was immediately referred to the CEED program for additional testing and gratefully received a negative result. At Project Self-Sufficiency’s most recent career fair, while looking for a job, she expressed how grateful she was to be in the right place at the right time.

Trinitas Regional Medical Center

One woman who benefited from a breast surgeon consultation was able to minimize disruption to job and family responsibilities as a result of immediate access to this aspect of care. The woman expressed gratitude for the opportunity to see such an accomplished surgeon, quickly and at no cost. This patient experienced the true continuum of care thanks to Susan G. Komen North Jersey.

Trinitas Regional Medical Center

“Miriam” attended a Breast Health & You workshop a few months back at the insistence of her friend “Anna”, who greatly enjoys our programs and is one of our best local cheerleaders. We are very happy she did. Our program was a true eye-opener for Miriam. As an undocumented woman with no insurance, the only thing Miriam feared more than a mammogram’s expense was the risk of being deported. Her situation is common among the women who attend Ms. Aguirre’s seminars, which is why she always emphasizes the fact that each patient’s information, including his/her citizenship, is held in the strictest confidence and cannot be reported to the government. Thanks to Ms. Aguirre’s reassurances, Miriam signed up for her first mammogram in 10 years and kept the appointment too. We are pleased to report that her screening was negative and she is doing just fine. In fact, she promised Ms. Aguirre that she will return every year for an annual appointment to ensure her good health going forward.

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