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It all started when the doctor said the words I never wanted to hear: “You have cancer.”

My world came to a screeching halt.

I’m an average Montanan who works hard, takes care of my family. And I stand up for what I believe in.

I’m a parent, a small-business owner, a dedicated community volunteer. One day I hope to be a grandmother and today I’m a cancer survivor.

I owe my life and the discovery of my breast cancer to the folks at the Flathead City-County Family Planning Clinic in Kalispell, and funding Congressman Denny Rehberg wants to eliminate.

The cancer screening I received in 2011 is covered by Title X funds, which Rehberg voted to eliminate in H.R. 1, a budget passed by the House of Representatives in February 2011. And it didn’t stop there. He also drastically cut the organization that runs the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, another provider of lifesaving health care services for women like me. The words of the executive director of the Kalispell clinic from the Flathead Beacon are still etched in my mind: “(The cuts) essentially (mean) that we would close.”

Rehberg didn’t get his way. Folks like Jon Tester stood up to these cuts and defended the 26 health care clinics across our state that provide cancer screenings and health care services to thousands of Montana women.

As the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Rehberg’s job is to provide care and services, not deny it. But this hasn’t stopped him from proposing the same elimination to Title X funds in a budget released just recently, which would leave a whole new group of Montana women without the services that detected my cancer.

What’s worse, he’s done all of this while protecting tax breaks for fellow multimillionaires.

I’ve made no judgments about Rehberg’s heart, but my story is real and I’m fortunate to be able to tell it.

When Rehberg says he understands what cancer does to everyone it touches, I can’t help but remember that his priorities in Washington, D.C., don’t include me and women like me – and they’re not Montana’s priorities.

I stand by my words and call on Rehberg to explain his decision to protect tax breaks for millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas instead of my health care.

Lisa Jones is from Whitefish. She appears in a television campaign ad for Jon Tester.

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