On Tuesday of this week, I sat in a cancer center for the day. It is near the third anniversary of my cancer diagnosis and I am now having annual scans to be sure the cancer doesn't return and if it should, that we catch it before it spreads. I have written before on my experience in the cancer center. It is a sacred place. It is a place where deep sorrow and great hope coincide. It is a place that unless you've spent time there, you can't really grasp. While I am a nervous wreck each time I go, I also look forward to going, I could sit and just listen to people share their stories all day and basically I do.
This week was slightly different. My best friend took me to this appointment so that Howard could keep the wheels turning at home and we headed out once getting kids settled with school or on the bus, I got there, had bloodwork done, had an IV placed and was sent to the basement for radiology (where I would later have to have the darn IV redone, but in the grand scheme I shouldn't complain). Once in radiology I was separated from my friend and placed in a small room with seven other cancer patients all waiting for scans as well.
Part of the scanning process requires drinking a contrast solution. It isn't TERRIBLE but it's no margarita. As I sat there with those seven people we each took turns giving a "cheers" as we received our contrast. The feeling is one of camaraderie, it isn't a place anyone would choose to be, but there is a solidarity in that room that you won't feel elsewhere. As we sat and sipped our bottles of yuck, we shared stories. I sat there in awe of these people. The resilience, the positivity, the hope was tangible. A 72 year old man with terminal liver cancer that had spread to his lungs, who by all doctor predictions should've been dead years ago, a 32 year old mom of Muslim faith who was battling stage 3 ovarian cancer, a 54 year old woman on a clinical trial for breast cancer, a 61 year old man battling prostate cancer, a 43 year old man battling stage 4 colon cancer, an 83 year old woman enduring treatment for end stage renal cancer so she could see her first great grandchild be born, and a man who kept to himself and sat quietly in the corner fighting tears.
These are all real people. Michael, and Adra, and Ethel. Bob and Ryan and Millie...and the man in the corner, they are parents and spouses and siblings, friends and as we sat there, sharing stories, the news came on. The fear and sadness in the room was thick as the repeal of the ACA act was being discussed. Each of these people have a preexisting condition. Each of these people need expensive medical treatment to live and continue to live. Each of these people is loved deeply by others. Each of these people deserve better.
When fighting cancer one should not have to fret about the logistics and financial aspects of their medical care. They need all of their energy just to show up and fight. I try not to get political here, as it is never my intention to divide people. We all need each other and we need opposing views to better each other. But guys, healthcare shouldn't be a luxury afforded to only the wealthy...it should be a right in America. All people should get the care they need without going bankrupt or being denied. These precious people are afraid that changes in healthcare law will ultimately result in their death...this is life and death. I hope and pray they are wrong, that everything is going to be just fine and that maybe the new president will surprise us all...regardless, I'd challenge any of the politicians of America to spend just a day in a cancer center, listening and truly HEARING people, healthcare reform maybe should start there.
Today a new president takes office. If you know me, you know he would not in a bajillion years be my choice. I do not believe he will be a voice for the marginalized, I believe he is a voice for only himself and is a man of no integrity. I do not believe he has the best interest of the people at heart. As a mother to girls, to children of different ethnicities, children with special needs, and as a mom with a pre existing condition married to a public school teacher, this is beyond political, it is personal.
His words and actions thus far give me no hope in his ability. He is all of the things I pray my children never become, he is in no way a role model I want them to follow, his words have been horrendous, and yet we as a nation write those words off hoping that something shockingly different will be better. I am a firm believer that words have power and I believe his words have revealed who he is, but I stand today hoping with all I have in me that I am wrong. I hope he somehow deep deep down has the ability to "Make America Great Again", but friends, this job is too important to leave it up to him. We have to stand up and speak out. We have to be unafraid to be a voice for those who need one and to stand up for what is right and just.
We cannot give up now, we have to make our own corners of the world better, world change begins there...be kind to each other but keep fighting the good fight and do not grow weary. The battle begins now. It's ok to be sad today, but tomorrow we begin the hard work ahead of us, God is still in control and we have the power to make a difference...let's do it.