Another 6 months flew by way faster than I realized and once again, I stumbled across the lump that I had since forgotten about. This time, however, I noticed that it had become quite a bit bigger than I last remembered it.
I talked to Ivory and, for the first time, I was genuinely concerned about what it could be. He comforted me and repeated what the doctor had told me, but also reprimanded me for losing the referral and told me to call Planned Parenthood to get another. Unfortunately, I’m a big chicken and I have had almost no experience with doctors in my adult life, so I got nervous and made a conscious decision to not embarrass myself by calling them to admit my carelessness.
At this point, I had just started taking classes at UT and during orientation they had mentioned student health services. I immediately knew that this was my ticket! I scheduled an appointment with a doctor the week after classes started and was determined to follow through this time (because at this point, my mom, my sister, and Ivory were all telling me not to put it off any longer, and I knew they were right).
I walked into my appointment without a bit of nervousness, and calmly told my doctor what was going on. She ended up saying the same thing as the first doctor (“Oh, you’re so young, I’m sure it’s just a cyst or something minor”) and started her exam. When her fingers came across the lump, she got a worried look on her face, but again reassured me that I would probably just need surgery to have it removed. Once again, I felt myself pulling away from the dreaded S-word that sent me into a instant worry-spiral and the only thing I could think was “how am I going to pay for this?”
I left her office with another referral and an explanation of how the place will “work with my income to come up with an affordable price”. I thought that was amazing and called the place while walking out of my appointment.
Five minutes later I was being told, “Oh, we’re sorry Ms. Adair, but you do not qualify for financial assistance due to your income” (… I make about $18,000/year. It’s not awful, but it’s enough to keep things exciting in the worst sense of the word). I told her thank you and that I understood, and asked her about how much an ultrasound would cost me without insurance. She immediately replied, “at least $500”.
I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.
There was no way I could afford that. No way.
I tried to keep my voice steady as I said goodbye, and as soon as I hung up the phone, I burst into tears.