Freedom, Finally


Imagine nine years of abdominal pain and hemorrhaging so severe that your loved one is in the emergency room every two weeks. Your wife or sister or mother needs surgery but is told time and again that emergency MediCal does not cover the expensive procedure that your family cannot afford. Your loved one uses over-the-counter pain medication and hot water bottles, but the pain, hemorrhaging and severe blood loss persists from an every-growing cyst. This is Gloria’s story.

Gloria struggled to find a stable job, but most jobs would hurt her physically. The pain made her feel out of control and depressed. Her illness affected the entire family, never knowing when they would need to rush Gloria to the hospital. “It took a bit away from each of us. She is suffering and we are also suffering,” said her husband, Carlos. “I could not be at the birth of my two grandchildren,” recalls Gloria. One hospital visit for pneumonia led Gloria to be referred to Project Access. Evelyn Peñaloza, her Project Access Care Manager, scheduled her with Dr. Keerti Gurushanthaiah, an OB/GYN at IGO Medical Group.

Dr. Guru, as her patients call her, a newly joined Board Member of Champions for Health says that the best part of her job is getting to know patients during their course of care, building relationships and making someone feel better. “The best thing about being an OB/GYN is making a difference in people’s lives.”

From the first appointment, Gloria knew that “Dr Guru is very caring, attentive, and humble – humble because at that moment, she as surgeon, was so willing to help someone like me, who felt like a nobody.” Before going into surgery Dr. Guru asked Gloria if she was ready. “I just started crying and told her thank you because you cannot imagine what this means for me and my family,” recalls Gloria.

Gloria and Charlie speak about the difference in her life after surgery with one word – “freedom.” Dr. Guru shared with GB Magazine, “Project Access patients are so grateful after the surgery. They have gone through so much pain, exhaustion and anemia, that they feel amazing after the surgery and are beyond thankful after their recovery.” Gloria says, “There is a huge weight lifted off us, I can stand up, I can do things, I can play with my grandkids, I have more energy!”

Gloria is thankful for everyone’s help: from the doctors and staff to Evelyn’s calls, support and encouragement. Gloria hopes “God will continue to bless Dr. Guru so that she can keep helping people because she gave me peace and tranquility. Now I have better health and better opportunity.” Since 2008, Project Access has facilitated $24 million in care for 6,500+ uninsured patients just like Gloria by providing free consultations and surgeries – all thanks to the dedication, time and talent of our volunteer physicians. For every $1 spent on program expenses, Champions For Health provides $10 in donated services – a return on investment of 1000%! Help Project Access patients by donating to Champions for Health, please visit

author avatar
Esteban Villanueva