Today I went to a press conference hosted by Senator Reid. We spoke of the great need for health care reform. I shared the experiences Fred and I had within this very broken system. Our son Freddie was also present and provided emotional support. I am posting my comments here:
"When I met my husband of fifteen years he had a dream. He wanted to teach film studies at the university level. He went to school for many years and got his Phd. My husband Fred Holliday soon became Doc Holliday. He began to adjunct at many universities and worked as a video clerk. I worked at a toy store and taught art. When we were not working we cared for our two children; three year old Issac and ten year old Freddie. In the 2007/2008 school year My husband and I worked five different jobs between the two of us and still could not afford family health insurance.
n August of 2008, My husband's dream came true. He was hired by American University to teach film studies. He was so happy. He was such a great teacher. Now, we could finally afford family insurance. In January 2009 he began going to the doctor because of pain in his chest. In February the pain went to his back. He no longer could carry his books and papers to the classes he taught; so he began using our son's rolling backpack. By March the pain was so severe we demanded an MRI.
On March 27 at 11:00 am my husband was diagnosed with Metastatic Kidney Cancer. He was in stage four by the time of diagnoses. My husband was hospitalized at five different medical facilities in a three month period. He suffered through 40 ambulance transports to receive radiation, had repeated and unnecessary tests, routinely had delay in pain treatment due to lack of data access during transfers. After suffering in a health system more concerned about quantity of care over quality of care, Fred died on June 17th at the age of 39.
Would access to an affordable family insurance made a difference in our case? I think so. If my husband could have seen a primary care doctor throughout the past ten years there is a very good chance this cancer could have been caught before stage four. If there had been consistent follow up to the ER visits we have made as an uninsured family, I think some one could have looked at all of his symptoms in combination and ordered the tests that would have discovered the cancer. If an electronic medical record was in place that could have followed my husband from ER to health clinic to specialist, a red flag could have been raised that this patient needed more treatment.
My husband was a dreamer. He dreamed he could make the world a better place by being kind and thoughtful. Our current medical system with insurance tied to a job makes it very hard to be insured in many professions. The time has come to make hard choices. Do you want a world without musicians, artists, actors and teachers? Do you want to give up on dreams? Or do you want do everything in your power to fix a very broken medical system? I know this is very hard time for many people. The economy is bad, things are uncertain; but that is no reason to turn away. If we all work together good will come of this. My husband did not die in vain. We will change things."
Go and spread the word. The time for change is now.