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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Battle begins....

I would like everyone to know that my wonderful husband, Frederick Allen Holliday II, died on Wednesday the 17th of Renal Cell Carcinoma. He was great. He was kind and caring. He was a loving father. He was a brilliant teacher. He did not deserve to die in such a cruel way. Cancer is a monstrous disease that eats you alive.

I cared for my husband for the last three months. My mother-in-law says that I am what kept him alive during his very long hospitalization. We spent three months in five different hospital settings. I saw some very good care and too often, very poor care. I found out things I had never wanted to know. I discovered how bad it can get when you are hospitalized in this country.

I did not ask to be handed this cup; I will drink from it, though.

I will let the anguish of us all pour out through me. I will be his voice. I will be your voice. We are all patients in the end. We should have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

Up until now, we have only seen skirmishes. I have been waiting to begin the battle. Now I gird for battle. I am a liberal democrat raised in Oklahoma by conservative republicans. I am a Lutheran whose best friends represent many faiths. I am a mural artist in Washington DC and was Oklahoma State Champion in Original Oratory in 1990. I have worked in a factory, in food service, in retail, as a teacher, and served briefly in the US Navy. I am a mother of a special needs son and am the widow of a good man. I am the perfect storm.

My mother was a hospital house-keeper and my Aunt Minnie an ICU nurse. They always told me to go into medicine. Now, I will go after medicine.

I will stand up. I will not be silent. I will not give up the fight.

As a child, I was abused. I lived in a society where people looked the other way. My mother and my aunts did their best to help in a very bad situation. I went to teachers and told them the horror of my life at home. They did nothing. People saw me beaten in public and did nothing. Neighbors heard my screams. They did nothing. At 17 years old, I took my younger sister to a shelter. In so doing, I think I saved us all.

Today we live in a society that looks the other way. The health care system is abusive. People say "that's just the was it is" and we have to live with it. I say no. If there is a societal shift, things will change. Now if a child is beaten, it is not okay. If a teacher hears of an incident, by law they must report it. I want the same awareness and laws in health care.

This week I will start my next mural. I will be painting at the Amaco Station by Politics and Prose. Look for me. Look for the change that will come. I ask for your help. Do battle with me. If we all work together we will effect great change.

Good Night and God Bless,
Regina Holliday


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your son for all that you have gone through. The mural you painted is so heart touching! I just watched the video and read your story on NPR. As a young Mother who is studying to be a secondary science teacher I commend all you and your husband have done to make this world a better place. I can only imagine how proud your husband would be of your painting and your medical rights advocacy work. You are fighting the good fight and things are changing!

  2. I'm sorry for your loss. But thankful for your voice.