MEDLIFE Goes Above and Beyond for a Breast Cancer Patient

Written by Multimedia Producer Rosali Vela and translated by Rachel Goldberg and Lindsay Bigda:

Patient follow-up is more than treating the illness itself; it’s getting to know our patients and, most of all, listening to them. Carmen Solano is a MEDLIFE patient we first discovered thanks to our newly implemented breast cancer screenings at our Mobile Clinics. Despite facing a painful diagnosis of breast cancer and a long treatment process, she is remarkably hopeful and upbeat. MEDLIFE has been supporting her through her chemotherapy sessions over the past few months. Though weakened both by the illness and the effects of the chemo, she makes the trip every week from high in the hills of Villa Maria de Triunfo to the hospital, where MEDLIFE field nurse Meri Lecaros accompanies her to her doctor’s appointments.

Carmen blog1

Recently, her pain had been becoming worse, and her treatment was delayed by a wound that wouldn’t heal. The site where doctors had removed a portion of breast tissue for a biopsy was infected and draining fluid. If it continued, it could trigger other problems that would require the removal of her entire breast.


Carmen’s doctor told her that the infections could be a result of the fact that her living conditions, humid and poorly ventilated, had turned her mattress into a source of infection. An old and damp mattress is easily susceptible to bug infestations — a condition that, although a common occurrence, could severely complicate Carmen’s condition. But there was nothing she could do; she needed a mattress to sleep on, and to buy a new one and transport it to her home was impossible for her.

Feeling that MEDLIFE had already given her enough help with her chemotherapy and medications, Carmen was embarrassed to admit the problem to us and didn’t want to ask for more assistance. However, when she mentioned it to Meri on one of her visits, Meri immediately recognized the importance of the mattress and promised to do everything possible to help. On her next visit, Meri took other members of the MEDLIFE team to see Carmen’s living situation. They were shocked to see the mattress, filled with cardboard, straw and rags, and resolved to buy a new one as soon as possible.

CarmenOn October 18, MEDLIFE Director Carlos Benavides, Multimedia Producer Rosali Vela, and Meri went to buy the two mattresses and bedframes for Carmen and her family. They met up with community leaders, who helped carry the beds up to surprise Carmen at her house, and everyone immediately got to work putting the new beds together and cleaning out the old one. And that wasn’t all — the MEDLIFE and community representatives there that day took the opportunity to finalize an agreement to build safer stairs on the steep ground next to Carmen’s home. The director of the community kitchen also agreed to donate food for Carmen and her daughters, since her illness has made it impossible for her to work to provide for her family. It was an emotional moment for everyone as Carmen, with a huge smile, thanked everyone from MEDLIFE for listening to her.

See a slideshow of photos from Carmen’s story by clicking on the play button below and read the captions by viewing it on Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com//photos/medlife/sets/72157631850925603/show/


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

Testimonial Quote

Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

Testimonial Quote

Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

Testimonial Quote

Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

Testimonial Quote

David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

Testimonial Quote

Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

Testimonial Quote

Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

Testimonial Quote

Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

Testimonial Quote

Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

Testimonial Quote

Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

Testimonial Quote

Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

Testimonial Quote

Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

Testimonial Quote

Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.