Patient Story: Maria

I worked in a restaurant—in the kitchen. At the start of the pandemic, they let us all go.

I’m the primary bread winner for my four daughters back in El Salvador. From thousands of miles away, I followed news of the virus as it came to my community back home—the small town where my girls live. Thankfully, they were able to keep it from spreading too much because everyone came together and followed the quarantine restrictions.

In the beginning, I was able to cobble together part-time work so I could send some money to them and also cover my rent and other basic needs. But about seven months into the pandemic, my world turned upside down again, this time in the hospital where an MRI indicated pancreatic cancer.

For over a year now, families—even those lucky enough to be living in the same town—have been separated by the virus. Being so far away from my daughters has never been harder, but I told them not to worry or be sad because I was in very good hands. And that’s the truth: Arlington Free Clinic lined up everything so I could see specialists; have access to a long, complicated operation; and be followed closely throughout my recovery. They even connected me to a program that provides rental assistance—and because I had help, I was able to stretch my resources and continue to help my girls.

When I received the vaccine in March, I felt extremely relieved. My partner is finally back to work in a restaurant. Before I got the vaccine, he was constantly worried about getting me sick. To have had great treatment for my cancer and to be vaccinated—gratitude doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings!


Read our entire 2021 Spring Newsletter

Coming to the Table: Addressing Food Insecurity During the Pandemic
AFC’s Vaccine Clinics
Letter from the President: Arlington Free Clinic’s Role in Ensuring Vaccine Equity
Recognizing Jim Cole, President & CEO of Virginia Hospital Center, Friend of AFC
Transitioning to a Post-COVID-19 World Through a Mix of Virtual & Onsite Care
COVID-19: Year in Review
Spring 2021 Updates