Citizen Action of Wisconsin - Affordable Healthcare for All Event

January 21, 2020

Good morning! My name is Amy Washburn, and I’m running for Congress from Wisconsin’s Sixth District. There are a few reasons why, most centering on healthcare, which I believe will be THE central issue in the 2020 elections, nationwide. I have experienced first-hand how broken our health care system is. This is my story.

In 1991, at 22, I spent a week in the hospital due to a massive hemorrhage from my uterus due to too much estrogen. I was put on the pill, to re-establish my cycle. I was told that I would likely never be able to get pregnant, but if I did, I wouldn’t be able to carry to term successfully. But when I begged them to just do a hysterectomy, they said no, on the grounds that "you might want to have children" - despite the literal impossibility. The overage of estrogen made me a cancer risk; for three years, they did follow-up testing, but then stopped.

Fast forward to 2012, when I landed in the hospital due to previously undiagnosed diabetes. I spent a week in the ICU while they struggled to fix my seriously messed-up blood chemistry.

From 2012-2018, I complained of fatigue, bordering on exhaustion. The doctors refused to run any tests. I was told it was “just stress.” After 2012, I had no periods, and it was assumed that I had gone through early menopause (but again, no tests were run).

In Dec 2016, I had routine tests to rule out rheumatic illnesses (which tend to run in my family), and was diagnosed with MGUS (a form of low-stage bone marrow cancer which doesn't require treatment, just monitoring). All of my symptoms were then chalked up to that.

In March 2018, I had a 30-pound benign tumor removed from my left thigh. In April, I noticed a painful swelling of my clitoris, but when I told one of the wound care nurses, it was blown off as "likely somehow related to the surgery, it'll pass." It didn't pass. It got worse. By the time I got in to see a gynecologist in June, it was excruciating. She took 1 look at it, and, thank God, recognized it as cancer. She took a biopsy. Three days later, I was in the oncologist's office.

Turned out, I had three tumors. One was essentially my entire uterus, the 2nd was floating in the space between my cervix and bladder, and the 3rd covered the exterior of my clitoris.

I had 7 months of chemotherapy, then surgery – a radical hysterectomy and a clitoral resection – then another two months of chemotherapy. And on September 3, 2019, I was officially declared a survivor of Stage Four metastatic endometrial adenocarcinoma. Also as of September, I was found clear of the MGUS, but I will need testing every six months for the rest of my life to make sure it doesn’t come back.



If they had just done the hysterectomy I asked them for at 22, the uterine cancer would never have been an issue. If they hadn't blown me off for six years when I complained of fatigue, the tumor might have been found earlier and not spread.

At this time, I am 100% cancer-free, but I am still recovering from side effects of chemotherapy.

Now, I didn’t get to Stage Four overnight, but that was my initial diagnosis when it was first recognized that I actually had cancer. All of my doctors refused to run tests, for fear of being ranked lower by the insurance company. But I’m not upset with any one particular doctor; I’m upset with the system. Too many people with serious diseases, like cancer, fall through the cracks, because the insurance companies don’t want to have to pay to test and treat them.

My annual deductible for 2019 was $6,650, and due to chemotherapy, I met that on January 11th. Chemotherapy is expensive. Point being, if I had been diagnosed sooner, at a lower stage, my treatment might not have had to have been as expensive as it was. The cracks in the system are expanding, and we cannot let that continue.



The ACA was a good first step, but it didn’t go far enough. Too many people still lack coverage, and thus lack care. They make do. They don’t go to the doctor about “minor concerns,” like fatigue. And when those minor concerns turn out to be major problems, like cancer or diabetes, they end up in the ER, and they get financially wiped out. Or, they declare bankruptcy, and ruin their credit, and the taxpayers end up footing the bill after the hospital writes off the loss. I’m glad that the government at least gives us the option of bankruptcy with medical bills (unlike student loans), but frankly, sick people shouldn’t need it.

At the very least, basic preventive care should be covered for everyone. We are the only first-world country that doesn’t have that. Why don’t we have universal healthcare? Well, insurance companies and the medical lobby and “big pharma” all contribute to the problem. And politicians in their pocket tell us that “socialized medicine” is evil. Well, I say that evil is letting people with minor problems get worse. I say that evil is causing people who develop major problems to go broke. I say that evil is letting people die.

I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. So I won’t take their money. My campaign won’t accept donations from the medical or pharmaceutical or insurance lobbies. I will gladly take donations, advice, and suggestions from individual medical professionals who agree that the system is broken. And I have spoken with many who do.

Our healthcare system costs too much and is too dependent on private insurance. Every other first world country has universal healthcare. And they all pay less than we do. We can fix it, and we should fix it, and we must fix it. Send me to Congress, and I will do my best to help fix it.

My name is Amy Washburn. I’m running for Congress from Wisconsin’s Sixth District, and I hope to have your support. Thank you.