Letter 17: The Truth Keeps People Safe
I am so sorry that your dad and I did not protect you from dying from Yaz. We knew
almost nothing about its grave dangers. Daily life stuff can set me off – today, I was
sorting through old clothes, remembering you and I bought similar items, and I got
so angry that you are gone. I’m sorry for the rant, but I know such thoughts will
plague me forever—especially if our government continues to refuse to pull these
dangerous drugs from the market. It’s unbelievable to us that young women are
continuing to be harmed and killed! In the United States! Supposedly the world’s
leading democracy and with freedom of speech and the press!
We were not unlike other Americans -- a study of women by Kerry Gomer at Clemson University in 2009, the year you died, revealed that only 1 out of 310 women could correctly identify all of the health risks associated with birth control pills. Although the pill increases the risk of blood clots, most women taking them are not even aware of the symptoms of blood clots.
Kerry is just one of the many very smart people we have met this past year in our advocacy efforts on your behalf to inform young women of the dangers of hormonal birth control. Many of these well-educated folks were also severely harmed or lost their much-loved family member as did we.
Joe and Dana Malone lost their daughter when a blood clot in her leg caused horrific hemorrhaging in her lungs -- all triggered by Nuvaring. After compiling statistics from FDA Med Watch reports, they created a website BirthControlSafety.org that contains other sad personal stories and much hard evidence about blood clot risks.
An equally excellent website, sadly also inspired by loss of their daughter, is Dru West’s website BirthControlWisdom.com. I think this website should be required reading for any woman considering using hormonal birth control for any reason. There is such a plethora of information on this site. I was especially moved by the blogs on Dru’s site where women described the difficulties of returning to health after a blood clot.
We also learned a lot from informedchoiceforamerika.com, a foundation formed sadly again due to the Nuvaring-induced death of Karen and Rick’s daughter Erika. These parents formed a grass-roots plan that includes research-based information intended to inform, inform, and inform some more until a new paradigm is created for birth control. Sometime next year there should be a new documentary film and online summit called “Sweetening the Pill” based on Holly Grigg-Spall’s book and on interviews with grieving parents and fertility experts. The dream is that this documentary might make it to a showing on the National Mall in Washington DC. Lucine Health Sciences is funding research that could help protect women from the dangers of blood clots associated with pregnancy and with hormonal contraceptives.
David and Roz Rowan have a foundation dedicated to their daughter’s memory to inform about the dangers of embolisms caused by hormonal birth control. They are currently traveling to college campuses to inform college students of the real dangers to real people of hormonal birth control. Emily Varnam and her friend Kelsey Knight have started a campaign for the Fifth Vital Sign (the menstrual cycle), to inform young women wherever they might gather. If you were still alive, I would make sure that you read these websites, in addition to ploughing through the FDA label; the dangers related there are in small print mostly in the middle of the 50 or so page label!
To avoid the risks of pregnancy and of artificial hormones, many women are turning to non-hormonal options, including IUDs, diaphragms, and other proven contraceptives.
Not only bereft parents, but others with a common sense and a strong sense of right and wrong—some in medicine, some in journalism and media—are dedicated to making a difference. These letters to you would be just sitting in our computer without publication if not for Diana Zuckerman, an epidemiologist who heads The National Center for Health Research.
Knowledge is power and the truth would have kept you free and alive. If you had only known. But Big Pharma and the medical industry didn’t want you to know.