Lilian Serrano’s mother-in-law had lots of stomach problems, but she always blamed food.

Doctors at a San Diego-area clinic suspected Genoveva Angeles might have cancer, but they could not say for sure because they did not have the equipment to test for it and Angeles, who had been in the country illegally for 20 years, could not afford to see a specialist and did not qualify for state assistance because of her immigration status.

In September, Angeles finally learned she had gallbladder cancer. Serrano said she was in the hospital room when Angeles, in her late 60s, died about two weeks later.