Dena: Baldwin, MS


DenaIn 2018, Dena – a mother and grandmother in northern Mississippi – began bleeding from her anus. At first, she thought it was just hemorrhoids, but the pain got worse. By the beginning of 2021, she was in a great deal of pain and bleeding constantly. But because she didn’t have health insurance, she couldn’t afford to get her symptoms checked out. 

Finally, her daughter got her an appointment for the local clinic. After several weeks, she was diagnosed with stage II colon cancer. 

“I knew I was sick,” she said, “I just never would have dreamed that I had colon cancer. But if I’d had insurance of some kind, I would have gone to the doctor sooner, and would have gotten a colonoscopy. I would have caught this years ago.” 

Dena’s treatments were covered through a charity care program at her local hospital. But Dena knows that if she’d had adequate health coverage and had been able to get screenings or early detection, her treatments would have been much easier and less invasive, and would have had less of an impact on her quality of life. “If people had medical coverage,” she said, “you would catch so many diseases earlier. An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure, and I don’t understand why we don’t just make sure everyone has access to care.” 

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