Letter 20: From Kaitlyn

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Dear Annie,

 

At 15, I went to the dermatologist’s office completely defeated by my persistent
acne. Pills, creams, and restricting dairy had all failed to make it go away. I was
willing to do whatever necessary to get the bullying at school to stop.

 

My mother, a pharmacist, supported the idea of me using birth control. It was the
first medication that I ever regularly took, and it earned the “mom approval”- the
strictest of all standards. My mother said I was safe, since I’m young and not a
smoker. All I could see were the benefits, and none of the potential harm.

 

I never knew the side effects, and I never investigated them. As a pre-med student
I’ve been spending the majority of my undergraduate studies conducting research in medicine and advocating for health concerns. At the same time, I never researched my own medication or advocated for my own health when visiting my doctor. You did all of the right things, and you still weren’t saved.

 

I didn’t know until these letters, Annie. This could just as easily happened to me, and I’m so sorry that this happened to you. Your family is serving women all over by sharing your story, despite how painful I’m sure it is.

 

I told my older sister, who has also been on birth control for many years about you. She was recently a physical therapist at a stroke clinic. One patient was a healthy twenty-two year old that had a stroke from her birth control, and is severely handicapped from the neurological damage. I could tell it was really hard for my sister to treat her, because she could see herself as a patient in that clinic too. So can I.

 

How can something so widely used by healthy women have such serious (and seemingly hidden) side effects? Why does it take a tragedy for action to take place? I’m not really sure, but I will pursue a career in helping others with you in mind.

 

Sincerely,

Kate

National Center for Health Research

1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1100

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 223-4000

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