There’s much debate ongoing in the healthcare-for-all arena these days. I won’t weigh in politically, however, I’d like to share this story:

Kathy had a terrible childhood. You’d expect this if you had to watch your mother die of cancer when you were 8 years old. Kathy and her brothers got even more bad news as they grew. The cancer their mom had died with was inherited. Their family had a condition that put them at tremendous risk for getting the same cancer. It wasn’t until Kathy’s older brother was diagnosed and died at age 25 that the reality of this all sank in for her. 

Kathy, a teenager when her brother died, made 2 related vows. She was not going to die of this cancer, and she was not ever going to leave children “motherless” like her own mom did. Still on her father’s health insurance Kathy began the suggested annual screens needed to watch for this cancer.

Years went by and many things happened; Kathy got married, had 3 kids and then divorced. In her late 20’s she found herself a single mom, working odd jobs to support her family, and no way to pay for her own health insurance. As they, say she was the working poor.

And what stopped? Those annual screens. Unlike clinics that offer free mammograms and blood tests, Kathy needed an invasive screen that no one provides “free”.

In her 30’s Kathy met Allen. They fell in love, married and quickly got pregnant. Kathy was delighted to again have health insurance through Allen and quickly made arrangements to begin the screening.

You will already know where this is headed. I can’t imagine being told that I had cancer. For Kathy it was even more gut wrenching, she knew she would probably get it, and yet hadn’t had the means to catch it early and possibly cure it. The vows she had made as a teenager would all be broken, and although Kathy fought through chemo and surgeries for 2 years, she did not win the fight. At the young age of 36, her life was over.

I met the new generation, the 11 year old, the 9 year old, the 6 year old who had her birthday 3 days before her mom died, and the little 2 year old. I wonder if they will be making vows themselves, and I wonder if they will live in a society with insurance that will allow them to put and end to their cancer cycle.

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