Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Planned Parenthood: PP Saved My Life

by Shaker Angie

Planned Parenthood quite possibly saved my life.

Like many women, I turned to Planned Parenthood for my regular well-woman check up and birth control when my previous OB-GYN retired. I didn't have the time or interest in doing the research necessary to find a new OB-GYN, so I went to Planned Parenthood because I knew that I could trust the nurse practitioners and doctors there.

During a routine well-woman exam, the nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region found abnormal cells on my cervix. Planned Parenthood also provided me with all the follow-up care I needed to make sure that that diagnosis did not progress into cervical cancer. Another nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood did a colposcopy and cervical biopsy. They also provided the pap tests needed to make sure the cells didn't come back.

Routine. No big deal. This is what they do. They provide the quality, affordable care women, men, and teens need and deserve. I am sure they have provided the exact same care to thousands of other St. Louis women who owe their health to the dedicated, professional staff at Planned Parenthood.

I hate to think how this story might have ended had Planned Parenthood not been in St. Louis. I was young and invincible, I might have put off my well woman exam indefinitely had there not been someone I trusted available. I had insurance; I chose Planned Parenthood because I knew that I would get quality care from them. The well woman exam is a very intimate exam. I would not trust just any doctor or nurse with my reproductive health.

This past February I gave birth to my first child, a daughter. Had the nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood not found my precancerous cells and protected my cervix from cancer, it might not have been strong enough to support the weight of my growing uterus, fetus, and amniotic fluids. While maintaining the ability to grow and birth a healthy baby is not the only reason I am glad I didn't get cancer, it is definitely one of the big ones.

My story all-too common. HPV, the virus that causes most cervical cancers, is so common that 50% of sexually active Americans have it (accessed: 3 July 2011). Hopefully this statistic will decrease with the widespread availability of the HPV vaccine (which, by the way, is available for all genders at Planned Parenthood).

I want Planned Parenthood to be there for my daughter when she needs them. These state and federal attacks on Planned Parenthood have got to stop. They are really an attack on every man, woman, and teen—both Democrats and Republicans—who needs Planned Parenthood to stay healthy.

Some say that there are other places to go for the care Planned Parenthood provides. I also go to a doctor who works in a community health center for my primary care. She is an excellent doctor, but the wait to see her is often long and the waiting room is always packed. Our safety-net public health system is stretched to its limits.

If Planned Parenthood were gone, their patients wouldn't go somewhere else for care because there is just not the infrastructure available to absorb them.

Read the rest of the My Planned Parenthood Carnival posts here.