Patient Leader Spotlight

April Gardner

In 2009, I started to experience pain in my lower abdomen. My mother took me to her gynecologist, who assumed it was a cyst without running any tests. Months went by with no improvement, so the doctors continued giving me medicine for the pain under the assumption that it was a cyst. In September of 2011, the pain and nausea worsened.

A few weeks later, I started having blood in my stool, so I went back to the doctor and told her all of my symptoms. The doctor did an ultrasound and found fluid in my pelvis, which she believed to be a cyst. My mother convinced the doctor to give me a colonoscopy, but they couldn’t schedule it for a month. I went to another gynecologist who scheduled me for a colonoscopy the next week.

During the procedure, they found a tumor the size of a golf ball. It turned out that it was cancerous and I finally received a correct diagnosis: I had colon cancer. I had surgery the next week and a month, later I met with an oncologist to start chemotherapy. On my first day of treatment, I started feeling the side effects immediately, which was unusual. I felt so terrible following chemo, and before the second round of treatment, they ran some tests and found that I had a DPD deficiency. That means I don’t have enzymes in my liver to filter the chemotherapy. If I had had that second treatment I would have died from an overdose. Luckily, that first round of chemo was enough and now I have been cancer-free for seven years.

If it weren’t for the imaging results from the colonoscopy, I could have continued to live in pain with my incorrect diagnosis for years. Access to this type of medical imaging is vital for individuals like me, which is why I took my story to Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers need to know that it is vital to protect access to the right scan at the right time for your family and for families across America. One way Congress can protect this access and innovation in medical imaging is by repealing the medical device tax. If Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year, the tax will slow the pace of innovation and postpones patient access to the next generation of care. I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk with my lawmakers about this issue and share my story!