So What If You've Been Reborn?

Dear Hon. John McCain,

It is with great sadness that I learn of your diagnosis of brain cancer. Your diagnosis of having glioblastoma, one of the most common is also one of the most malignant brain tumors. It can be treated with chemotherapy and radiation, but medical experts state that it almost always grows back. The diagnosis of cancer is always one that stops you in your tracks. The next thought in your mind is “what kind” and “can it be treated”, followed by “how long have I got?”

It’s a situation that occurs daily across our great nation. And one that touches almost every single person. No one is exempt. If it’s not you, a member of your family, or a close friend, it is someone you know. There is someone right now in all likelihood that you know that is fighting cancer. There are some who have been victorious, and others who have lost the battle. Cancer is cruel. It doesn’t care who it picks, and it doesn’t like to lose once it’s grip is firmly planted.

In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease. I personally watched as a young family with four beautiful sons who found a lump during an x-ray after he complained of pain in his foot at age four. That pain ended up in a diagnosis of Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer that has a very small survival rate attached to it. After ten long months of chemotherapy, radiation and some hefty medical expenses, their son is now “NED” meaning “no evidence of disease.”

I watched another young man, 16 years of age with a smile that could like up the New York skyline sit in a hospital room alone, no visitors that came, no parents that would come to help him cope with the fear of being diagnosed with a grapefruit sized tumor on his spine. His pain started two years earlier, when he woke up with a backache and was told that it was just “growing pains” and nothing a couple of Tylenol couldn’t fix. Six months later he woke up with a limp. Because his family had no health insurance, his single mother of seven children took him to the “free clinic” who again stated he had growing pains, and it would eventually go away. Nine months later he woke up and couldn’t feel his legs. Again his mother took him to the clinic who transferred him to the hospital for x-rays and evaluation. It was then that the doctors discovered he had an aggressive form of cancer that had grown on his spine, and the only course of action would be to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. His mother was presented with the costs of his care. He would have to be hospitalized for an extended period of time. So What If You've Been Reborn?

It was then that his mother told the doctors that she could not afford treatment or care, and signed off on him, declaring him a ward of the state. She walked out and never came back. The hospital became his home, and I became his mother. The thought of a child facing such great loss and fear without having someone to count on was more than my heart could bear. His cancer was advanced, his prognosis not good, and he died on a sunny spring day. I was able to get his diploma posthumously, because to him, it was the most important achievement he could obtain on this earth. He was buried with his Washington Redskins jacket he got for Christmas that year – his most prized possession after his diploma. His goal in life was to become a doctor, and find the cure for cancer.

And I watch now as a young mother of two beautiful babies fights to win her battle against metastatic breast cancer. I’ve know her since she was a child, running and playing with the other “campaign kids” at rallies and political gatherings. She has grown up to be a beautiful young woman, who met her Prince Charming, and daily she fights. Her cancer continues to spread, but her will is strong, and our love, support and prayers will continue.

You never know when, or who, or how cancer will touch your life. My mother died of a rare leukemia in 2010 and I myself have had my own personal battles with it. But the deciding factor in each and every one of these cases, including your own care and treatment is predicated on the ability to have quality health care and insurance.

National health care is the elephant in the room. As our nation prays for your health and a positive outcome, it remains hostage to an administration that wants to strip away the very protections that the taxpayers of this nation provide to each and every member of the US Senate and the US Congress, and the President of the United States – for life.

I have always had respect for you. Your capture and torture in Vietnam was something that even as a young girl I knew was so very wrong as I watched not only broadcasts about your imprisonment, but the evening news that gave updates on the war itself.

You sir, have learned the value of life, the value of courage, and earned the status of being a true American Hero in our lifetime. More than 8,000 miles away from home, you sat in a tiny, squalid North Vietnamese prison cell. Your body was broken from the plane crash, you were suffering from starvation, and in pain from crude surgical procedures performed against your will by your captors and months of torture.

Once released, the road to recovery was long for you. But while you were learning to walk again, Donald Trump was making plans to build hotels in Manhattan.

Every emotion you have felt, every fear you are experiencing now, every attempt you will make to try to fight for your life is what the families and children across America experience every single day – but magnified by the great fear of all – financial devastation from lack of insurance. Will they lose their homes? Their jobs? Their marriages? Their lives?

God works in mysterious ways, and I believe you to be a good man John. Let this light that now shines down upon you, surrounded by the prayers of a grateful nation, lead you to understanding and supporting the American families that have lived with uncertainty for over six long months. Some of them are struggling through – others didn’t make it at all.

Let this experience help you to do the right thing. Be the American hero in my eyes I know you to be. May God Bless you and heal you. May your journey be one of success and gratitude for a cure that will help you to endure this disease, and continue to enjoy your lifetime as God intended. We are all on your side. Please allow yourself to do the same for those who like you – received a diagnosis today. But let them have the same assurance as you of knowing they can have the coverage they so desperately need – without the fear of insurance being stripped from them along with their hope. Because sometimes, hope and prayers are all you have left.