Sunday, October 02, 2005


My mom had cancer. Mrs. X. That history teacher. My friend Josh's sister died of it. The next door neighbor lady and her mother-in-law. ChemE's mom died of it, too. A is just finishing the therapy now. A list as long as my arm. So ChemE and Steph and I congratulate ourselves on getting away from home and thereby saving our lives.

H got it here, though, in New York. So the pattern is broken. Still, I don't think about it as something that happens here. Or to people my age. Well, I do. I do now, at least.

Heart trouble, diabetes I'm pretty much guaranteed to get those. According to my mom, who has a PhD in denial, I shouldn't worry about the cancer.

A while ago I talked about the formal lynching of the person who came up with an insurance plan to sell to companies that doesn't cover breast cancer. The woman whose company bought that policy is in the hospital today. The cancer is in her brain now, for sure.

Sure, there's no way to know how this would have gone if she'd had different insurance. It's possible that she'd have been like me and she would have ignored symptoms to some extent anyway. Though, really, not probable. It's likely that she would have at least had faster and less stressful treatment. On the other hand it's possible she could have had an experience like H and A, uncomfortable and surely no fun but one might say easily survivable. Even relatively quick, you know, as surgery, chemo and radiation go.

She does have a name but I don't have permission to use it and I'm not sure that I would anyway. She's a tiny little woman. She's brightly colored in my mind. She looks like a person whose dirtiest joke would be about those horses that fell in a mud puddle but I have a feeling she'd giggle at some of the jokes my mom tells. Her idea of sending you a couple of photos is to send a bunch of photos, one framed photo, a t-shirt and a handwritten note. She's so quiet sometimes you could forget she was sitting there, quietly in one place for 2 hours. She works half days while she's in treatment and then comes home to where she's living with her parents (since she can't afford to live on her own and pay her medical bills) and cooks lunch for her retired mother.

Her future is uncertain now and really all we can do at this point is to think of her fondly and send her good thoughts (some people - people who aren't me - might call them prayers), to thank her for what she has given to us so far...and ask for a little more.

I will do my best to concentrate on those good thoughts but I don't think that part of my brain will be able to stop wondering what sort of person could condone the devising of such an insurance policy or the purchasing of it. Have they ever had to pay their own medical bills? Have they ever had a friend or relative with a life threatening illness? What exactly do they tell themselves that justifies this decision? I'd say that I'm just interested and yet it's not that. I'm angry, furious and sad and I want someone to be accountable.

And I've only known her a month.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:29 PM

    You know she would have gone to the doctor on a regular basis, had she had insurance earlier, and thus caught the cancer before it was 4 pounds, by the fact that she scheduled a doctor appointment for the very day her insurance took effect. And this without having had any symptoms at all. She only had some minor, unrelated, back pain that she wanted to get checked out.

    At least now almost everything is covered by Medicaid - which our government is trying to cut funding for, because there's just so much waste by poor people!


    Since her insurance didn't cover anything anyway, she might as well have gone to the doctor earlier, but the fear of being uninsured and something being wrong is a very strong (un)motivator.