Dear Representatives

I have been calling and writing my representatives for months now. This is the latest of what I wrote. I decided to write to all of them, not just the ones I disagree with. There were some slight variations in the wording. My feelings come as no shock to anyone who knows me. I am a real person with a real experience and my representatives will hear from me.


Dear Representatives,

I am a 32 year old resident of Milwaukee, WI. Only to Tammy: You were my congresswoman in Madison when I was a student and I was thrilled to vote for you when you ran for Senator. I’m writing to share my personal health story. A year ago I was an active, healthy 31 year old. I was in, probably, the best shape of my life. Except that I wasn’t. I had a body full of tumors that I didn’t know about. I went to my primary care doctor with complaints about bloating and some other fairly non-descript symptoms that I had mostly written off as being a woman. Thankfully, I have an wonderful primary care doctor who listened to me and ordered ultra-sounds. Within less than a week I was referred to a gynecologic oncologist who told me I needed surgery immediately. There was a good change I had ovarian cancer. On August 10, 2016 I underwent surgery to have an ovary removed, with the real possibility of a full hysterectomy at age 31. Well, they didn’t do a hysterectomy, but they did remove both ovaries and my appendix. I was diagnosed with appendix cancer that day. I had never heard of it before. I knew nothing. I was suddenly talking to additional physicians and being told that I would need another, much more invasive surgery. Less than 4 weeks after this initial surgery I began chemotherapy. I went through 8 rounds of chemo while also recovering from surgery. I started to get stronger and then my chemo had to be switched to a stronger chemo. I lost my hair. I felt miserable. My Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve were all ruined by this. On January 20, 2017 (this date is not lost on me), I underwent a 12 hour cytoreductive and HIPEC surgery. This means my surgeon went in to remove all visible tumor and then a hot chemo was poured into my abdominal cavity for 90 minutes. I have very few memories from the first days after this surgery, but I do know I ended up in the surgical ICU. I ended up in the hospital for five weeks due to an infection. Thankfully my three and six months scans have been clean and I have no evidence of disease today. This is only true because of my health insurance. My hospital stay was billed out at almost half a million dollars. I am alive today and not broke because of my health insurance. I am truly terrified of everything that has been proposed. I will have a pre-existing condition for the rest of my life. I will need scans every year for them to monitor me. I was healthy until I wasn’t. This is why insurance exists and it breaks my heart how many people don’t understand that. Only to Tammy: I thank you from the bottom of my heart for fighting for me, and the people of Wisconsin. I am willing to share my story with as many people as I need to.

Thank you,

Renee

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