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The American Dream... of Health Care

The American Dream... of Health Care

Picture of Rebecca Plevin

About three years ago, Georgina González left her three siblings, three children, and three grandchildren in Puebla, México and immigrated to Fresno in search of better economic opportunities.

What she found here, though, was an opportunity to receive health care after she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

"I have seen that God brought me to this country to be cured," González told me. "It's possible that in my country, I would not have had that opportunity."

González's story – which ran in the Jan. 12 edition of Vida en el Valle – is so personal, and so universal at the same time. (I collaborated with Jacob Simas of New America Media on this story. A link to his video about González is below.)

González is a petite woman who has confronted her breast cancer diagnosis, and resulting surgery, physical therapy, and radiation treatment, with faith, optimism, and inner strength.

When she squeezed her palm into a tight fist, and over the chatter of a Fresno taquería declared, "I'm not going to cry" – I believed her.

Her story also has a larger meaning: As a low-income immigrant, González is one of the many women who have benefitted from the state's safety-net health programs. Some of these valuable state programs, though, were targeted for cuts in Gov. Brown's proposed budget, released last Monday.

Through the Every Woman Counts program, González received a free mammogram – and learned she had breast cancer. The Every Woman Counts was a victim of budget cuts last year, but it was reinstated in December. The program emerged unscathed under the governor's proposed budget. 

And through the state's Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program, González has received temporary Medi-Cal benefits that have covered all of her cancer-related treatment and medication. The cancer treatment program was preserved, but the temporary Medi-Cal benefits González receives would be impacted under the governor's proposed budget.

Though we began this story thinking it would be about González's inspiring journey through the health care system, we realized it's also about a different type of American Dream: having – and possibly losing – the opportunity to receive quality health care.

"If it weren't for (those programs), I truly don't know what I would have done," she said.

This blog was originally posted on Harvesting Health, Rebecca's blog about community health issues impacting Latinos in California's San Joaquín Valley.

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