Carlene King photo

Survivor Story: Carlene King

When the real estate business fell into a slump in 2008, the timing could not have been worse for real estate broker Carlene King. She had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. To add to her health worries, she faced nearly $5,000 in medical bills from her surgery and hospital stay. 

“I had some insurance, but not enough,” Carlene said. “When you’re going through chemotherapy, you’re not thinking about bills and how you’re going to pay them. That was the least important thing on my list at the time.”

The 45-year-old Fort Worth resident received help from Cancer Care Services, which covered her co-pays for several months. They referred her to Kim Conley, medical bill advocate at Moncrief Cancer Institute. Kim sorted through the bills, contacted the hospitals and doctors, and negotiated fee reductions through a manageable payment plan.  

“I loved my team of doctors. But what Kim was able to do was like icing on the cake. Now I don’t have this mound of debt looking me in the face. I’m paying off my bills. I can only imagine what it would be like to have those bills hanging over my head.” 

Once she found about Moncrief Cancer Institute, she started looking further into the services available.

“Moncrief has been like a home away from home,” Carlene said. “I went to their nutrition class and thought it was excellent. I learned that a portion doesn’t mean that you should cover your plate with food! And I learned that if you chop garlic 15 minutes before cooking it, it improves the cancer-fighting properties.”

Carlene also took advantage of other survivor services at Moncrief.

“It was definitely what I was looking for, because there’s no fee. I have no excuse for not exercising. It’s great working out with a personal trainer who is familiar with cancer and knows how to exercise accordingly. Breast cancer patients, especially, may be shy about working out and may wonder, ‘Am I doing this right?’ After surgery, a lot of it is fear. So having a one-on-one personal trainer is the best part.” 

Today, Carlene volunteers with Komen Greater Fort Worth, Cancer Care Services and the American Cancer Society. The mother of two has also started her own charity to reach African-American and Hispanic women.

“With the exercises, I’ve felt better, getting energy back and thinking more clearly. This allows me to focus and get out there and talk with other survivors. I’m back in the game again and life is excellent,” Carlene said, smiling.  “I’ve been blessed.”