POVERTY, CANCER, AND TAMPONS - a personal, true story

Leaving an abusive lifestyle is challenging and almost impossible to comprehend. I had a beautiful home, 2 children, went on vacations and it was the perfect American Dream but the inside was filled with deception, drugs, cheating, lies, abuse and hate. I never knew I was being abused. I never had black eyes; I was never hospitalized or chained to the basement wall. It took a friend to teach me what was happening in my life was not right. 
I left many times, only to discover my cries where ignored and the help was just not there. I final decided that I had enough. The last and final time leaving, I found myself homeless, scared and alone. I finally recieved some help, but my struggles where almost unbearable. Raising a daughter,  trying to work, being stalked/abused and fighting the justices system to be free, left me with little hope. 

One experience I had that left me ashamed was not able to afford feminine products. Living in poverty, tampons were something I could not afford. I had to supply these products for not only me, but a teenage daughter. 

My heart broke for my daughter who was struggling with becoming a young woman. She would cry asking me, "why can't I be like the others, they get stuff mom!" Do you know what it feels like to have your dad fight not to help raise me. Do you know what it feels like to have your dad not want you? 
I tried my best to supply us with feminine products.

The food pantries would rarely have these items and when I found a box beaten and half opened, I would treasure these items with my life. I remember a lady handing me 5 tampons and she explained, this would cover me for a week. I just looked at the tampons thinking, this would not last a day. 

 

Eventually, I started using toilet paper. I would go into public restrooms and roll up toilet paper and I found myself stashing some in my purse for later. My flows were extremely heavy; I was reaching my mid 40s and I discovered that I not only needed a feminine pad, I needed a super tampon in addition. This added more pressure and stress. On top of all this stress, precancerous cells were detected in my body during an exam. Can you imagine, I could not afford tampons and now they are checking me for cancer? The doctor that was doing the testing understood my issues and helped me, the staff was so kind and they supplied pads after the procedure. 

With the struggles I accrued, I started a nonprofit with the guidance of Vicki Bowen Hewes. I connect survivors with nonprofits, organizations and other survivors to help empower women during their journey.

 

When I was introduced to Aunt Flow, tears filled my eyes and I was eager to reach out to this organization. Women who have experinceed abuse, along with their young daughters, should never experience the shame of not having the proper items to be able to care for themselves. It's overwhelming to see women unite. A new sisterhood is being designed in our communities. A wonderful autonomy is forming for women in needed. 
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MICHELLE WELLS

Michelle Wells
Founder, Love Me Like a Princess