I received a number of emails today congratulating me on getting health care. It's true... and hard to believe (while still holding my breath on the senate's vote)... but come June 24, 2010, I will have health insurance. My CT scans (every 3 months for the next 5 years and then twice per year for the next 5) will now be covered. Starting September 24 there will be no lifetime cap imposed on any of us. We can now monitor our own children for this disease and not worry that they will be burdened with a pre-existing condition. Yes, it came a little late for the 3 years of surgeries and rounds and rounds and rounds of chemotherapy. But it did come. And my children will never be in the situation that we are. Not to mention, it reduces the deficit according to the nonpartisan, much respected CBO.
A women I shared a chemo lounge room with last week told me that she had breast cancer that had spread to her bones. She told me that her mother had and so did her sister.
"Do you have children?" I asked.
"Have they been checked for the breast cancer gene?"
"The doctor advised us not to have my daughters or granddaughters checked. If the gene is discovered, they will be denied medical coverage."
I was stumped. I am a loud advocate of family history and gene testing as a means of prevention and early treatment. We have an amazing program at UCSF and I feel that every cancer patient (especially in the Bay Area) should know about these programs. But I know what it is like to be without insurance with mounting medical costs. And as I've said before, almost half of my support group is without insurance.
I hope that I am partnered in the lounge with that woman again. I will tell her about June 24 and start my gene test talk again. It's a good day.