Monday, November 05, 2012

3 years ago, or, a reason to vote

Three years ago this week I was in Chicago. I won't link to all of it again, but you can find the story by searching Kris or looking in November and December 2009.

Kris died of breast cancer. I am sharing the above graphic because Sarah, a member of the team that produced it, has asked me to share it, and because I think all women should be aware of the facts, the numbers, and the tremendous cost in terms of money and people.

It is a long story, but Kris was a healthy woman in her late 30s when she quit the job that provided her health insurance to pursue her true passion full time. She was a vegetarian. She exercised regularly and led an active lifestyle. She didn't have any health issues.

Except she had something in her health history that did not affect her daily living, required no medication or other intervention, and had no outwardly visible symptoms.

Every insurance company she applied to for coverage denied it. On the basis of this "pre-existing condition." She had no idea this would be an issue; it never occurred to her that it might be. She was a planner. A researcher. Freakishly responsible. She would never have quit that job had she known she could not get coverage.

She applied to dozens of insurance companies. At some point, denied dozens of times, she found a lump in her breast.

And she ignored it. I don't know how long; months, maybe a year or more.

This graphic says it all; early detection is key.

So what does this have to do with me voting? Well, in 2014, if it is not repealed, the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition.

If that had been in place in 2007 or before, I might be planning a trip to Chicago to visit Kris instead of remembering the time I cared for her before she died.

She didn't vote. She didn't have faith in the process of representative government. She didn't believe the decisions politicians made could have a direct impact on her life. They could have. And guess what? I vote. Tomorrow I vote for Obama once again, because if his work can spare one person the pain and suffering that my friend went through, it's worth it.

She had hope to the very last. My vote tomorrow will be for her. For hope. For health care. For everyone.

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