When Sonji moved to Portland in 2011, it was with the goal of turning her passion for helping others into a career as a nonprofit professional. That goal seemed to be getting closer when, in 2012 she found a temporary position working with the local chapter of a major nonprofit organization. Sonji enjoyed the satisfaction of her job enough to overlook the fact that she didn’t receive health insurance. When she began to notice some unusual changes in her health, though, the issue of her insurance became a lot more important.
“I started having insomnia, loss of appetite, stomach problems,” says Sonji, recalling symptoms that so negatively impacted her life as to land her in the emergency room several times but, without insurance, there was very little they could do. “I’d hear things like, ‘if you want to pay out-of-pocket for this test, we could check to see if you have this condition…’ but I just couldn’t afford it.”
As Sonji’s health grew worse, work became difficult. Finally, when a colleague noticed something was wrong, Sonji confessed that she hadn’t slept in days and was suffering from a mysterious ailment that she couldn’t afford to diagnose, let alone treat.
“That’s when she told me about Project Access NOW,” says Sonji.
With the help of Project Access NOW, Sonji was able to connect with a gastrointestinologist at Legacy Health where, following a diagnostic process that included two colonoscopies, her care providers were able to diagnose her with severe digestive inflammation and to begin the process of controlling her symptoms. Today, she looks back on that time with a mixture of amazement and gratitude.
“The community of care I found as a Project Access NOW client was just incredible. Before that, I felt isolated, my family was far away,” says Sonji. “My doctors and Project Access NOW changed all that.”
Today, Sonji works for Cambia Health Solutions where she is proud to help others connect to the kinds of care she once had such trouble accessing. “If not for Project Access NOW, I would not be where I am today.”