Once upon a time, there was a lovely family. A mother, a father, a son, and a daughter. The mother and father were raised in Ohio and children of educators and government employees. Middle class families, hard working, loving and life, though not always easy, was marked by grace. They married, moved to North Carolina, where their life was idyllic, in appearance and form: a boy and a girl, a nice home, a successful business and good health. Quite a rare treasure indeed and then one day, it ended.
The boy became ill, perhaps the flu he was told by an urgent care center, and so, he headed to his job each day at a marina. The boy’s parents were worried though and soon hauled him to see the family physician whom they trusted. The blood work was alarming and the x-ray showed a very large mass. The doctor and family were worried and so, they headed to Duke University Hospital and left the worried girl with her grandparents at the beach.
It’s a tumor, they said, the size of a softball in his left lung and we will need to operate imtely. The parents clung to one another as spectators and the doctors did removed the tumor and half of the boy’s lung. It’s not cancer, they said, and two weeks later, the mother, the father and the sister made the trek to pick up the boy. A nurse snapped a photo of the happy family, though the sister was uncertain. Life went on though and the boy had a wonderful summer. Fall came and the girl headed to boarding school and the boy went back to college and they lived happily ever after.
I wish that was the ending, but it wasn’t. Soon, the boy was sick again and the boy went back to Duke. This time the doctors found six tumors in the brain responsible for a quick mind and wonderful sense of humor. The boy lived in ICU, the parents lived at a hotel and the girl was at Salem Academy. The father got a letter from their insurance company telling him that the boy’s medical expenses wouldn’t be covered because he was no longer a student, a stipulation of the policy. The nice doctor wrote a letter and explained that the boy was not going to classes because he was in ICU. The boy’s professors each wrote a letter too, sharing the grades and perfect attendance of the boy who had a 3.0 even though he struggled with dyslexia. The insurance company conceded defeat and the boy received the very best care. A year to the day of this picture, the boy died, surrounded by his family.
That boy, that family, that story could be your story. Everything going just fine and then one day, a meteor called cancer strikes. What if there had been an annual cap on the boy’s insurance? A million dollars in bills twenty seven years ago translates to many more dollars today. The boy’s story was tragic, though marked by love and care and no one should be offered any less. The girl is pleading with you. The girl who was the smitten younger sister and misses that big brother every single day is telling you that your family’s future is in the hands of your senators.