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When Laura was 10 weeks pregnant in February 2019, she felt pain and a lump in her left breast. She knew that breast tenderness is common during pregnancy, but she could tell something was wrong and wanted to get it checked out.
Though Laura was working as a dental assistant and in school to become a respiratory therapist, she did not have access to private or employer-sponsored health insurance. But because Oklahoma offers low-income pregnant women coverage through Medicaid, she had recently gained health insurance through the program. This allowed her to quickly get screened for breast cancer, where she found that she had three tumors.
Laura’s cancer was aggressive and spreading quickly and by April, she had to have a mastectomy. That month, she worked part-time, took care of her other children, and began the first four rounds of chemotherapy – while still maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
In August, Laura gave birth to her healthy baby boy, Jaxson. One week after giving birth, Laura had to go back to work, and had to shift her focus to her own health. No longer pregnant, she was able to get the full recommended treatment. And because some Oklahomans with breast cancer with low incomes are eligible for Medicaid, she was able to maintain her coverage even after giving birth. By February 2020, she was told that she was cancer-free.
Medicaid saved not only Laura’s life, but her son Jaxson’s as well. This health insurance program made it possible for her to get the lifesaving treatment that she needed.