Everyone has a story. This is mine. In 1990, at the age of 30 and just a week short of completing my graduate degree in Public Health, I went to the campus physician for a routine physical where he discovered a testicular tumor. I was given the phone number for a specialist and told good luck. Fortunately, luck was on my side. I continued on.
I actually spend very little time thinking about my own story, despite the fact that I have worked with cancer patients for over 20 years.
Now I find myself obsessively reading articles about the ever-changing health care battles, trying to separate out fact from fiction. Can I really be denied coverage because of my pre-existing condition? Will older adults have to pay more? The questions go on and on.
The health of many, many Americans will be profoundly changed for years to come by decisions being made today I Washington.
How many? Let’s just take cancer. In California alone, 20 new people will be diagnosed every hour of every day.
So what can we do to make sure that this health care bill addresses the real needs of real people.
Tell your story to a politician. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative came about in part because of his son’s cancer diagnosis. Tell politicians about your pre-existing conditions, the cost of medications, your lost income due to illness.
Tell your story to those relatives who you can’t seem to agree with on anything political. Chances are they will have their own health stories that share a common thread with your own.
Here’s the thing: Despite the sharply divided political environment, cancer, like other illnesses, is fiercely non-partisan. Which means that the impact on patients, whatever their own political affiliation, makes for a shared story. Tell it.
With a Perspective, this is Rob Tufel.
Rob Tufel is the Executive Director of Cancer CAREpoint, a San Jose based non-profit organization providing support to cancer patients and their families.