Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Susan G. Komen Lets Breast Cancer Win

I woke up this morning to the devastating news that the Susan G. Komen Foundation officially pulled its funding from Planned Parenthood.

Literally two weeks ago, I walked into my local Planned Parenthood to get a second opinion on a lump that I had found back in September. When my OB/GYN’s office returned to me an inconclusive result from the first exam, I knew I needed to talk to someone else. I am 23 years old, and found an irregular lump that was tugging from the inside – a big, red flag for anyone who has ever taken a women’s health course.

Both my mom and maternal grandma have had significant issues with their breasts, too (both have been “flagged” for benign tumors), so I wasn’t taking any chances. I had my first mammogram in December, and got a less than positive response from my OB/GYN.

Because I am so young, my insurance only covers one mammogram/ultrasound every few years. I’d like to thank my Republican representatives and opponents of preventative health care for this appalling set up. The rate of breast cancer in young women is rising, but the men running our country are turning the other way. No one seems to understand that preventative care not only saves lives, but money as well. Every other country in the developing world uses a preventative care system, but the U.S. does not.

To get a second opinion, I went to the last place I ever expected to have to go for a second screening and opinion: Planned Parenthood. It was the only place in St. Louis that was willing to get me in, and understand that I’m a student essentially without insurance in the state of Missouri (shout out to the Indiana Republicans who screwed me over on that, too.) The cancer screening and exam was free, thank God. The nurses and doctors at Planned Parenthood were so incredibly polite and understanding during my ordeal, considering how much of a basket case I was at the time.

To me, at that point, sitting in the waiting room, it didn’t matter how much I worked out, how much organic food I stuffed into my mouth, or how healthy I stayed – my genetics were going against me and I was in a state of despair.

Regardless, it turned out to be benign, but an irregular growth, nonetheless. But thanks to Planned Parenthood, it was caught and now I will monitor the lump for the rest of my life, in case it develops to a malignant cancerous tumor.

I am so disappointed that Susan G. Komen, so called “crusaders” for women, pulled its funding to provide breast cancer screenings to young women like myself whose insurance doesn’t carry over into another state, or women who can’t afford to see an OB/GYN. That’s not crusading for women, or promoting health and wellness for anyone. Susan G. Komen gave into the demands of baseless, science-lacking factions who would rather see thousands of women like myself develop breast cancer and struggle for the rest of their lives.

I used to run in every Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure I could, and now I know, at the end of the day, they never really had my interests at heart. I will never run in one of their races or donate to their cause again, until they acknowledge the millions of young women and poor women who rely on Planned Parenthood's cancer screening services. Only then will I know that they actually have my best interests at heart.

So, thank you, Susan G. Komen, for showing your true colors, and it’s definitely not pink in support of women. This issue is not about abortion, it’s not about birth control – it’s about women having the right to access the health care services they need, and you just deprived millions of us from getting them.

- Chelsea