One young woman wrote for Time magazine about her story with breast cancer treatment and how the medical provider Planned Parenthood saved her life. At only 24 years of age, this young woman called Jaime Benner was the guardian of her sister due to her mother’s passing as well as a mother to her own infant daughter. Three years later, in the midst of raising two girls, she felt a lump in her breast.
As she began worrying about the breast lump, the costs of treating breast cancer and her very life was on the line. She immediately called her OB-GYN, but couldn’t get an appointment for four weeks. That seemed much too long, so Benner headed off to Planned Parenthood, which was able to get her a same-day appointment.
She received a breast exam and a mammogram from a radiologist. With the results uncertain at first, Planned Parenthood staff set up an appointment with a specialist from a breast cancer center the following day. The young woman was then diagnosed with breast cancer and quickly scheduled for a radical mastectomy. Her breast cancer was a rather aggressive form and, if Benner had waited those initial four weeks to see her OB-GYN, she may have faced Stage 4 Breast Cancer.
The healthcare staff at Planned Parenthood helped this woman overcome the obstacles that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis. The staff coordinated her appointments, chemotherapy treatments, and specialist visits at clinics. Also, the staff helped her apply for Medicaid coverage so that she would not face the high costs of cancer treatment.
Medicaid can be a lifesaver for cancer patients who are often unable to keep working due to low immune system function, severe fatigue, hospitalizations, day-long chemotherapy sessions, and other side effects. Both Medicaid coverage and Planned Parenthood saved the life of Jaime Benner.
“Without their care, I wouldn’t be here to help my sister through college or watch my daughter play hockey,” she wrote in Time magazine. “Cancer can happen to anyone, from single mothers in small towns to the politicians who walk the storied halls of Congress.”
Even though the Republican healthcare reform bill called the American Health Care Act was not put to a vote and did not receive the support needed to pass it into law, this will not be the last time that the Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives will attempt to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood and reduce the money needed for Medicaid coverage across all 50 states. The American Health Care Act had attempted to destroy Medicaid expansion and change the structure of the funds needed to continue state Medicaid programs.
With Planned Parenthood providing 360,000 breast exams, 24,000 HPV vaccines, and 270,000 pap smear tests every year, gutting its funding would literally lead to loss of life. Women’s lives need to be given much more priority. We cannot let lawmakers put women’s lives in danger.
If the Republican Party continues to speak out and threaten the funding needed to save the lives of low-income families, we must speak louder. We must call and email our lawmakers. We must march in protest. We must make our voices heard.