Sara Braganca's Story

Last updated: May 23, 2024

I’m 35, a cancer survivor, and work full-time as a booking agent for a podcast-booking agency.  It’s because of Medicaid that I’m well and working today, with a college degree and able to focus on building a career I’m passionate about and that will let me give back to my community. 

"Medicaid matters because it saves peoples’ lives. It saved mine.”

Sara Bragancas

I was 28 when I started at RI College (RIC) and so was too old for coverage under my parent’s plan.  The plan offered at RIC was limited and, despite working two jobs to put myself through school, neither offered healthcare.  The Affordable Care Act had just gone into effect and so I called HealthSource RI. Because of my income, I found out that I qualified for Medicaid.  The confidence this coverage provided meant a lot while I worked to complete my degree.

After graduating, I went to work full-time and was covered under my employer’s health plan.  But, two years into my career, there was a company-wide layoff.  At the same time, I was showing symptoms that concerned my doctor and so had appointments set up for some tests. I called HealthSource RI and found out that, again, I qualified for Medicaid. I can’t tell you how helpful and efficient HealthSource RI was and how reassuring it was to know that I would be covered. 

Like most young people, I thought the response to my symptoms would be an easy fix! I didn’t see a cancer diagnosis coming, but in January 2016, my doctor told me that I had stage 3B colon cancer.  During the first weeks after my diagnosis, there were so many tests to have done and so many doctors to see.  Cancer grows fast and it affects you for the rest of your life.  In someone as young as me, it’s important early on to set up for the best possible outcome.  The freedom to do all of this without having to second-guess whether I could afford it was huge.  I was able to focus on addressing my health. 

Between January and November 2016, I went through chemotherapy treatment, radiation therapy, and two abdominal surgeries. It was a long year! I can’t imagine what this time would have been like, and the huge bills I would have faced, if not for Medicaid. 

I’m lucky to have a great family who would have fallen all over themselves to save my life, including selling their home or putting themselves into bankruptcy.  But because of Medicaid, they didn’t have to do this; they were free to just be there for me physically and emotionally through my diagnosis and treatment.

I believe we have to get beyond the false stereotypes about people who qualify for Medicaid.  So many of these stereotypes are just wrong. I don’t think that anyone would look at me and think, “she’s someone who’s getting her health coverage paid for by Medicaid.”  The truth is, we are all vulnerable. Medicaid matters because it takes care of people. It is one way in our society that we take care of each other.  Medicaid matters because it saves peoples’ lives. It saved mine.