ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A woman
battling breast cancer is now also battling the Veterans Administration to get the treatment she needs.
As a veteran Dawn George fought for her country
, working in military intelligence in Panama.
Now she is in a battle for her life against breast cancer and said she feels like her country is fighting against her.
"Now I am going to be constantly concerned,
'Is that cancer on my other one?'" George said.
In November, George had a biopsy that determined she had breast cancer.
Her VA doctor told her that it was stage
zero and all she needed was a lumpectomy.
George was concerned about the diagnosis and found the advocacy group Libby's Legacy.
The founder of the group, Robin Maynard, insisted that George get an MRI before her surgery, but the VA refused to pay for it. So Libby's Legacy paid for the MRI at the Women's Center for Radiology.
Dr. Susan Curry said the MRI revealed George's cancer was far more extensive than her VA doctors first believed. But the VA refused to do a mastectomy.
"It's as if they don't know the standard of care, or are not taking care of people that we would think, if you serve your country and have government insurance, you should get the best possible care," said Curry.
George's lumpectomy did not get all of the cancer, so she still needs a mastectomy.
Now the Veterans Administration is refusing to give her a double mastectomy, which she believes would ensure the cancer does not return to her other breast.
"I feel like a cow in a field. I'm just a number," George said.
Maynard, who has helped 4,000 women through her nonprofit, said she has found it more difficult to get help for George than women who don't have any insurance.
"I never thought I would have to go fight for someone who fought for me," said Maynard.
When asked to comment
on this story the VA would only say, in a statement, that a patient's care plan is based on recommendations from board-certified physicians.