I was sitting in Starbucks writing and blogging when this man I had never seen struck up a conversation. We began talking politics and it ultimately turned to healthcare. I was not sure where he stood on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) but he sure hates the American healthcare system.
It turns out, Ron Julian is at that age where he is close to qualifying for the Medicare he earned working all his life. He is however, as a small business owner, without health insurance. It is simply too expensive for a man his age. He went overseas for cataract surgery and said he would get any major surgery overseas until his Medicare kicked in.
After discussing Ron’s international form of acquiring healthcare, he told me about his niece Rhonda Julian who recently had a bout with breast cancer. He told me to call her up and to check out her website. Her website left me completely inspired. She detailed her complete breast cancer ordeal with an openness rarely seen.
Rhonda’s daughter Jada accidentally elbowed her on her breast one afternoon. She went to the doctor a few days later when the pain/swelling did not subside. It turned out that elbow from her daughter resulted in her discovering she had breast cancer.
Rhonda’s approach to handling her diagnoses was both brave and inspirational. She first leveled with her daughter and told her, “You saved mommy’s life.” Most importantly she made her daughter an integral part of her breast cancer ordeal in a positive manner by keeping her involved at every step of the way.
She created a website. Her website became one of her stress relievers. What it also became unbeknownst to her, was inspiration to some and support for her from afar.
Rhonda is a resident of the state of Massachusetts. She had recently moved back to the state. A month before the discovery of her breast cancer, she had a bout with kidney stones. At that time she did not have insurance. The individual mandate in Massachusetts meant going forward she had to have insurance, in her case partially subsidized.
Because Rhonda had insurance she had no fear of going to the doctor. She knew she would be covered. She knew that visit would not bankrupt her. She said, “If I did not have insurance, it would have been a big issue for me.”
There are millions of Americans outside of Massachusetts who would have put off going to the doctor. They would rather take a chance than to lose the little they have. How many Americans have died because their states, their country did not provide a human centric healthcare infrastructure as opposed to a profit centric one?
Rhonda’s story is a happy one because her state government earlier than most decided to do right by their citizens. Her story is proof that it isn’t only older people that should have reliable health insurance, but the young as well. Even a 29 year old can get breast cancer.
When the Affordable Care Act is implemented fully in 2014, Rhonda’s story can be the story for most in similar situations. Unfortunately for millions in Red States where governors have inhumanely decided not to adopt the Medicaid expansion of Obamacare, many will die unnecessarily.
After receiving lots of support from her community, Rhonda wanted to do something to give back. She created The Paint Her Pink Foundation. On October 20th her foundation will be hosting the Paint Her Pink Ribbon Rally. She intends to raise breast cancer awareness in her community by wrapping trees in pink ribbons in several of the surrounding parks.
Who expects to get breast cancer in their 20s.
Julian said many young people never think about getting cancer yet alone breast cancer. She wants to use her foundation to foment awareness in young women. She also wants to make those who are going through the treatments to, feel good about themselves throughout the process. After all one heals better with personal positive affirmations.
Rhonda Julian is not a particularly political person. She is a single mother who works to take care of her family. She makes up a part of the complicated American fabric. Because she lives in a state where her government is responsive to the needs of its people, as difficult as her breast cancer ordeal is, she has the support of her government and her community. Good government should be seamless.
Would it not be wonderful if her story was possible in every corner of America? Those that oppose universal healthcare, Obamacare being that transition, ensure that many with Julian’s difficult but bearable experience with breast cancer will be relegated to an inhumane and debilitating experience.