``Something Inside’’ By Maddie Greeneby Representative Mark Pocan
Posted on 2013-02-04
in the house of representatives
Monday, February 4, 2013
Mr. POCAN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to submit the following by
(By Maddie Greene)
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Presents Our Lives--Our Stories--Our
Celebration: The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
On a sunny, slightly chilly weekend in May of 2000 I was
preparing for final exams. Despite the stress of impending
tests, it was a beautiful spring.
I woke up early Saturday morning with severe stomach pain. This was a type of pain with which I was entirely unfamiliar. It came in waves, dull but intense. It would recede for a time then return so strong I could barely stand. Pressing my fingers against my lower belly, I determined that the lowest right-hand region was swollen, hot, and hard to the touch. So did I jump out of bed and call the hospital? Oh, heavens, no. Now, a blister--that's a tragedy worth swooning over. A swollen stomach? Eh, I'll ignore that.
That evening, I went to study with a friend. We made jokes about appendix trouble. I laughed--then rushed home and read up on appendicitis. My symptoms weren't quite right. With so much else to worry about, my attitude was this: ``It will get worse, or it will get better. I'll adjust to either option as needed.'' It got better. I went on about my week as usual. However, by happy chance, I had a routine annual gynecologist appointment scheduled for that Thursday at Planned Parenthood. That appointment was going to change my life.
Thursday morning, May 11, 2000, I took a final exam. A few hours later I was at my appointment at the old Mifflin Street Planned Parenthood a few blocks from my dorm. I mentioned the pain of the previous weekend, expecting little to come of it.
The R.N. conducting my examination was named Elizabeth. She was lovely. One element of my routine checkup involved Elizabeth pressing her fingertips into my lower belly. A few painful presses into the exam, her lips tightened. Then she smiled and said in a bright, cheerful voice, ``Well, you're pregnant.'' I'm pretty sure I gave a witty and decimating retort, probably something like ``No, I'm not.'' She gauged me at about three months pregnant based on the firm swelling. Mind you, the math didn't work out. I couldn't be pregnant. But when a nurse thinks you're having a baby, you entertain the notion. I took a pregnancy test.
Sitting in that exam room awaiting the results of my test constituted the longest five minutes of my life up to that point. When Elizabeth came back she was frowning again. ``Well, you're not pregnant,'' she informed me, and I punched the air triumphantly. She let me have my little celebration but she didn't smile with me. Instead, she said pointedly ``But if you're not pregnant, then I don't know what that thing is inside you.'' This disturbed me greatly.
Elizabeth sent me home to relax. ``Take the day off work,'' she said. ``Think about your next step.'' She promised to be in touch. I went back to my dorm and called my parents in tears. ``Mom? Dad? I'm not pregnant! . . . But something's wrong.'' They came to Madison and took me out to lunch.
[[Page E92]] When I got back there was a message on the answering machine from Elizabeth asking what I'd decided. Well, I hadn't decided anything yet. That evening she called again and finally revealed the depth of her concern. She said, ``Maddie, I didn't want to scare you too badly earlier. You needed time to cope. But I want to stress to you the: importance of contacting someone NOW. Please find a doctor and have that checked out.'' So I did. And it was cancer. Just after my final exams I started treatment for a volleyball-sized malignant tumor that used to be my right ovary.
As a college student I was covered under my family's health insurance. But I was at school far from home--and I wanted some agency over my health and my life. For a busy student struggling through full-time coursework and a part-time job, Planned Parenthood was the best option for monitoring my reproductive health privately and affordably.
Without Elizabeth, without the convenience and affordability of that Planned Parenthood on Mifflin St, maybe I'd be dead. Who knows? I know that they wouldn't have caught my cancer until I could no longer avoid the symptoms. Maybe until that fast-growing malignancy had done what it was trying to do.
Planned Parenthood didn't just do what I asked, they did what I needed. They identified that I was very sick and they gently, kindly, but insistently urged me toward seeking specialized care.
Today I'm healthy, cancer-free, and grateful that Planned Parenthood was available to me and that its kind, smart R.N. Elizabeth caught my cancer.
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