|Tre and Courtney Everette with their children, Dru, left, and Kinlee.|
Adults waved off Courtney Everette's painful menstrual cramps. Just part of the joy of being a woman, the teenager was told. Deal with it. So she did, for years. Until one day when she was 17, staying with her grandmother.
"She recognized things seemed a little more intense," said Everette, now 35. "I was really rundown. The level of pain was getting worse."
Her grandmother took her to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed endometriosis, a condition where the tissue usually forming each month inside a fertile woman's uterus instead grows outside it, in the abdominal cavity, leading to scar tissue, cysts, pain.
Added to those woes, for Everette, was fear of infertility.
"Even at 17, I knew I wanted to be a mother," she said.
Endometriosis can be treated, however.
"I was lucky," Everette said. "My doctor told me my best option was to use hormonal birth control, and that would reduce pain and preserve my fertility."
Time went by. She attended graduate school at DePaul.
"Back then, you got kicked off your parents' insurance at 21, 22. So I got booted and found myself unable to afford the hormonal birth control I needed to manage my endometriosis," said Everette. "I called a good friend, crying, and told her 'I'm in pain and really worried this is going to hurt my chances to be a mother.'"
The friend replied: You're in a big city. Chicago has to have a Planned Parenthood.
It does. So Everette went...
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