Cancer Survivors Share How Planned Parenthood Saved Their Lives

Photographed by Eylul Aslan
There's been a lot of talk about defunding Planned Parenthood since Trump took office (and even before that). But most of the debate surrounding whether Planned Parenthood should or should not receive government funding hinges on the organization performing abortions — which is only one of the many important services the organization offers to communities in need.
Planned Parenthood has also been a saving grace for uninsured people to get necessary, and sometimes life-saving, cancer screenings and treatments. These people have come together to form the Cancer Survivor Network For Planned Parenthood, a new campaign "united against attacks by extreme politicians who want to eliminate access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide more than 650,000 cancer screenings and prevention services each year," according to the website.
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The network was founded by people who had their cancer diagnosed and/or treated at a PP clinic. People like Dayna, a woman from Texas who felt a lump in her breast and went to her local Planned Parenthood for a breast exam because she didn't have health insurance at the time.
Dayna shared her story in a video for the campaign, in which she describes meeting a Planned Parenthood employee named Vivian, who helped her find a way to pay for the rest of the tests she needed.
"Five weeks later, the tumor had more than doubled in size," Dayna said in the video. "So, without Planned Parenthood I wouldn't be here talking to you, being a mom to my kids. I would be dead."
Dayna's story isn't rare, as the network shows with other stories from people who received, or know someone who received, life-saving treatment at Planned Parenthood.
In his election speeches, President Trump acknowledged that Planned Parenthood provides vital cancer screening and treatment services for women, and said that he (unlike other candidates) would spend money on women's health issues. The network reminded us of those promises in another video for the campaign, in which they call out Trump for first claiming to spend money on women's health, and then threatening to defund the organization.
In early March, Trump attempted to make a deal with Planned Parenthood that he would not defund the organization if they stopped performing abortions.
“As I said throughout the campaign, I am pro-life and I am deeply committed to investing in women’s health and plan to significantly increase federal funding in support of nonabortion services such as cancer screenings,” he said to the New York Times at that time.
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Planned Parenthood rejected the deal because abortions are not currently funded by taxpayer dollars — the Hyde Act makes it illegal to use federal money for abortion coverage — and because abortion is an important service the organization provides for women, and can be just as life-saving as cancer screenings.
“Women have been in the crosshairs since day one of this administration," Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Refinery29. "While politicians have taken unprecedented steps to rip away women’s rights and access to health care, millions of Americans are taking action: marching in the streets, calling their members of Congress, and showing up at town hall meetings to voice their support for Planned Parenthood."
The Cancer Survivors Network is another iteration of women, men, and people of all other genders standing up for access to the health care Planned Parenthood provides for low-income communities, and the uninsured. People like Dayna are using their stories to encourage others to support Planned Parenthood, through donation and activism.
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