Providing Care, Comfort, and Compassion in a Time of Profound Crisis

No one should have to deal with the kind of stress this person is enduring while facing life-threatening cancer.

Bennington Free Clinic

Bennington, Vermont

Diane* is a 40-year-old woman who underwent a lumpectomy in late 2018, when she had health insurance. Her oncologist urged her to have a follow-up mammogram monthly for the next six months, but she was unable to do so because her insurance had a $7,000 deductible and she simply could not afford the subsequent screenings.

Late last year – and with the assistance of Cindy Krautheim, Women’s Health Champion with the Bennington Free Clinic – Diane enrolled in You First, the statewide program of the Vermont Department of Health that offers personalized support to pay for and connect Vermonters to breast, cervical, and heart screenings. Diane was thus able to have her first mammogram in more than a year. Unfortunately, the result was not good: she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer with genetic implications.

With additional support from the Bennington Free Clinic, Diane’s insurance coverage has now been transferred to a special Medicaid cancer care program. As of this writing, she is awaiting imminent double mastectomy surgery. Meanwhile, she has been living hand-to-mouth since getting divorced a few months ago. She works full-time at $14 an hour and barely makes ends meet. She will be out of work for a minimum of one month following the surgery, and she’s very concerned that she may lose her mobile home and car as a result. Needless to say, the stress and turmoil in Diane’s life are nearly insurmountable.

Thankfully, the Bennington Free Clinic and its umbrella organization, Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services (GBICS), are there to help.

“Cindy and I have met with Diane and brainstormed a number of community resources that are available to her now or will be available to her once she has the surgery,” noted GBICS Executive Director Sue Andrews.

“No one should have to deal with the kind of stress she is enduring while facing life-threatening cancer. She will be treated locally and GBICS will continue to reach out and help with health care and financial assistance as we are able.”

GBICS Executive Director Sue Andrews

GBICS’s menu of programs serving the greater Bennington community includes not only the Bennington Free Clinic, but also the Interfaith Food and Fuel Fund, the Kitchen Cupboard, and the Bennington Oral Health Coalition. The organization is thus uniquely positioned to assist local residents such as Diane with a wealth of essential, interconnected services in times of critical need.

* The patient’s name has been changed to respect privacy, protect identity, and assure confidentiality.