When Tracy Walsh’s doctor saw the initial signs of cancer in one of her breasts last year, the South Carolina resident had several options for how to respond.

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She could undergo a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous tissue and follow up with five years of taking a drug that interferes with estrogen production to try and prevent cancer from returning.

Concerned about the potential side effects and the possibility of recurrence, Walsh decided instead to go with a double mastectomy to remove both breasts and undergo reconstructive surgery.

Though only one breast was showing signs of developing cancer, a benign lump already had to be removed years earlier from the other one.

Walsh wanted to take no chances.

“All I could think of was I want to live and raise my children,” said the mother of five.

Walsh spoke Monday in Wilmington at a press conference put on by the Americans for Prosperity, which has been crisscrossing the state and country to build grassroots support against the current health reform legislation in Congress.

Walsh, who traveled from North Augusta, S.C., had submitted details about her story online to the organization’s Patients First project and was contacted by the group.

She also is featured in a television ad against the legislation that is running in the Midwest and was paid for by the Independent Women’s Forum.

Walsh said her concern about the current reform measures is that it would reduce treatment options for patients like her, especially since she chose a radical procedure for what is considered a stage 0 or precancerous condition.

“My fear is of a bureaucrat setting a protocol of my diagnosis,” Walsh said during the press conference held at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside. “They’re going to tell us what treatment they’re willing to pay for and provide for us.”

As the grassroots debate over health care reform continues, personal stories like Walsh’s have been a major part of the discussion from both opponents and supporters of the bills.

Others pushing for reform met Sunday at an event at Hugh MacRae Park also to share their stories as patients and the need for universal health insurance coverage.

A public forum about health care reform is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Warwick Center.