Mayda is a 41-year-old mother of three living in an isolated colonia near Mission, Texas. She has been waiting years to be able to afford a mammogram after nurses at the hospital discovered lumps in her breast while treating her for a miscarriage.
The hospital advised her to get a mammogram as she was being discharged. When Mayda asked the cost, and then asked whether the hospital would provide her one if she paid in installments, the hospital refused unless she paid up front in cash.
They also declined to help Mayda find a place where she could get a mammogram at an affordable cost.
It was extremely difficult for Mayda to find an affordable mammogram despite years, of searching. “I searched all over for a place to have the mammogram. . . . I asked my sister [to come] along because she also has these lumps, so the two of us went all over the place looking for someone to do a mammogram because she too needed one. What we heard was $180, $280, $480. I didn’t have it because we just couldn’t afford it. . . . No one wanted to help, not anywhere I went….My husband was out of work, we had nothing, we had no help, no money for a mammogram, so I just left it at that.”
Nearly five years later, Mayda has yet to receive a mammogram. Every day she grows more concerned about developing cancer, especially now that she feels itching and discomfort near her cervix too. “That’s why I say, if it’s possible, we need a clinic here. [A visit] doesn’t have to be free, but if they charge, it should be affordable, or at least something you can pay in installments. . . . All this week and last we didn’t have an egg to eat in the house. We had no food, no nothing. I borrowed $20 here and $20 there to buy groceries because my husband is out of work. . . . Think about it, if we can’t afford to buy food, how on earth can we afford [fees at] a clinic?”
In 2011, the state of Texas made drastic cuts to its family planning program, which forced over one-quarter of state-funded clinics in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to close completely and most others to reduce hours and staff. Low-income women of the Valley like Mayda now have nowhere to turn for a trusted source of affordable reproductive healthcare. For more information about the impact of these policies on women’s lives, read the report.