Making Themselves Heard: Voices of the Women

Our patients describe the effects of poverty, homelessness and illness in their own words:

On fighting to keep Social Security benefits, Mary: “I am on Section 8 Housing, but I wouldn’t eat or anything else if I didn’t get Social Security. I would also lose my medical; there are copayments and deductibles, so I couldn’t afford my medical either. I have one medicine that costs $140 for 30 pills and that’s generic! I don’t know how I would live without Social Security, so that is why I am fighting for it.”

The “real truth” about drug addiction, Sandra: “Cocaine makes you feel so sad. You always say, ‘OK, one or two is not going to hurt…’ Then the way you look at the whole story when you’re out there getting high, you never think about the most important things. Selling yourself short for anything that means a hit, a piece of rock…and not paying rent, not tending to your children, not buying food, forgetting about the doctor’s appointment. You are afraid of dealing with a family member, trying to cover it up, trying to be somebody you’re not, going to pieces when things need doing… lying, stealing. The real truth about this story is: it is my life when I was on drugs, but through the grace of God I’ve been clean for nine years and still holding on.”

On not having your own bathroom… or any bathroom, Estelle: “Keeping clean and finding a bathroom during the day is hard. I can’t walk, I can’t sit…At night I can’t sleep. I go more than 10 times a night, but at least the bathroom is near. You need a good person with a good heart to help you. I am afraid sometimes to tell anybody. ”