Monday, November 7, 2016

Get Out And Vote

I wasn't sure I was going to write about this election on my breast cancer blog. I mean, what does politics have to do with cancer or healthcare? Quite a bit, actually.
My dear friend Beth is currently in a fight for her life because her insurance company, a federally-run group, has denied the combination therapy that her DOCTOR recommends she have to treat her metastatic breast cancer. You see, the drugs are not FDA-approved for use in this way, even though trials have shown 93% efficacy in the treated population. Beth has taken her fight to social media, and as a community, we are stepping up in the hopes that +Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan will hear our voices and #SaveBeth.

It's gross, really, that an insurance company can say no to life-saving drugs.

Here's how it's supposed to work: 1) Patient pays for insurance 2) Patient gets sick 3) Insurance pays for treatment. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE INSURANCE. It's why we PAY for it.

Insurance denials by federal insurers are a policy issue. FDA approvals are a policy issue. Cancer research and how much money gets funneled into research on metastases (not nearly enough, only about 7%) is a policy issue. Policy gets set, for the most part, in Washington, DC. And for cancer patients and survivors, those issues are vitally important.

It is literally about life and death.

I cried tears of relief last year when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act's protections on coverage for those with a pre-existing condition. I didn't know then what I know now about my health: namely, that I was likely never metastatic. But I still will always have had cancer. It is part of my story now, and prior to this monumental ruling, insurance carriers could flat out refuse to cover me.

I have my insurance through Chris. It has been wonderful insurance, covering most of our costs over the past five-and-a-half years, which have included a c-section, a bilateral mastectomy, nearly EIGHTY infusions of chemo or targeted chemotherapy, several biopsies, five weeks of radiation, more scans than I can count, and reconstruction. I have no idea how much all of that has cost, but my guess is Chris and I couldn't afford it out-of-pocket. 

The thing is, our insurance is tied to his job. I think his job is secure, but surprises happen in life. [UNDERSTATEMENT OF FOREVER] If something happened to Chris, would I be eligible for insurance coverage? The Supreme Court says yes. But Republicans have vowed to overturn the law that protects this coverage. I'm not okay with that uncertainty.

Republicans have also promised to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides free cancer screenings for underserved populations. DEFUNDING THAT CARE IS NOT OKAY. Women of color are already at such a disadvantage when it comes to healthcare. Struggling populations don't need one more hurdle standing in the way of their survival.

A republican congress has also drastically cut spending on science over the last decade, and would likely continue to do so. Science is how we get research. It's how we move toward therapies that keep patients like my friend Beth alive long-term. So she can watch her young kids grow up. So she can continue to advocate for other patients living with this dreadful disease. So we can end cancer as we know it.

But this election isn't just about me. It isn't just about cancer. And it isn't just about democrats versus republicans and who promises what.

It's also about the most qualified candidate in my lifetime to run for office, going up against an unprepared clown who seems to think our constitution is a joke and derides nearly every group of people imaginable: women, disabled people, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, blacks, even those in his own political party. I honestly don't understand the appeal.

This election is about the tone we will set for our country for at least the next four years, but possibly a generation or more. Our kids are paying attention. Quinn tells me I should be president, but short of that, he doesn't understand why a mean person, a bully, would even have a chance. Quinn is in kindergarten and understands that's not how we get ahead in this country. Those are not the morals we defend. We are better than that.

As one of my favorite bloggers put it:

I'm begging you:  please go vote, and please vote with best intention.  I suspect that I don't have to convince you that this man is a demagogue -- I can't imagine you'd be visiting Chookooloonks if you agreed with his stance.  However, if you're eligible to vote in the United States, I beg of you to do so.  Vote early, if you can; if you can't, then on Tuesday, November 8th, please find your way to the polls, despite the weather, despite the lines, despite how busy you might be.  And as you vote, please be mindful:  please don't throw away your vote, and please don't vote for this person simply because you're loyal to his party.   He's a dangerous, unkind, mean man, and he doesn't deserve your vote just because he conveniently chose a major political party to hang his platform on.

There are so many important issues facing our country. Healthcare, the future of our treatment of cancer, and the first amendment are just a few important ones to me. I'll probably lose a few readers because of this post, but it's important. I can't keep silent on it, not this year, not this election. 

Please remember to vote tomorrow. Our lives depend on it.


  1. LOVE THIS. Love it.

    (And thank you for the sweet shout-out. <3 )


    1. I'm having a fan-girl freak-out moment!! Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope to be virtually sending high-fives and hugs your way tomorrow night!

  2. Hi Jen,
    I was going to write a post about this election, but I didn't get to it. You did and I love this post! Thank you!