Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

It’s Not Our Fault – It’s Your Body

There are now tests available to determine if you are at a higher risk for certain cancers. I have always felt uneasy about this “Pandora’s Box” opportunity because I am afraid of the emotional stress it can cause, a fear that may never come true, but take away so much. I know what it is like to worry about the “what if” scenario because as a cancer patient, I was told that certain things could happen to me as a result of the treatment options I pursued towards my remission. And then of course, there is the protocol that my doctors follow me as a long term cancer survivor, which includes all kinds of testing on nearly every system of my body, to see what is going wrong, heading in that direction, or nothing to worry about.

When I had my open heart surgery nearly six years ago, is when I became aware through the extraordinary screening, all the things that had the potential to go wrong. And I will be the first to admit, that the knowledge I gained, crippled me and took away a minimum of four years of my life as all I did was worry about what could happen. If you live in the past, or just look to the future, you are going to miss the present.

I am not saying that the cancer gene tests are not without merit, quite the contrary. I am a firm believer that the earlier you can diagnose and treat cancer the better chance at survival. But when those tests lead to such extreme decisions such as voluntary mastectomies, hysterctomies, and other omies, when an acutal risk severity has not been determined is unfair to terrorize patients.

Of course the cynic in me needs to recognize this “test” is not just about what is good for the patient, but what people do not realize, by being diagnosed with a pre-existing condition, up until the approval of the Affordable Care Act, that test, if confirmed, was a ticket for the insurance companies to deny you health insurance, and will still lead to denial of life insurance. If the test is definitely going to save your life immediately, then by all means. If it is just going to make your stomach turn each and every day, then it may need to be thought about more.

And it is not just with personal insurance that this discrimination occurs. It also happens with Worker’s Compensation Insurance. Insurance companies always look for exits for WC claims. But guess what? As long as it happens on your employer’s property, it is Worker’s Comp. There is no doubt you will be put through an emotional and financial wringer, but just because you have cardiac disease, if you have a heart attack at work, that is Worker’s Compensation.

We are born with our bodies. In our lifetime, we are lucky if all we have to deal with are common colds and other ailments. But what happens when your body has to deal with something that will leave your future health in question because of measures that must be taken to save your life now?

In 1988 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Strike 1. In 2008 I underwent emergency bypass heart surgery. Strike 2. But wait. The surgery was necessary because of treatments that I received back in 1988 for my cancer. Fortunately I had good insurance. Two bouts of near fatal pneumonia in 2012. Strikes 3 and 4. Restrictive lung disease. Cardiac disease. Radiation Fibrosis Syndrome. Osteopenia. My list goes on and on. But God help me the day that I lose the insurance that I have. Fortunately I do not have to rely on that statement anymore because of the Affordable Care Act.

I am not saying that it is perfect, but the one thing that it did do, was make sure that people like me, are not denied coverage, not only for something that just happened, but also for what was done to me. No longer does some pen pushing puke get to turn me down because I had cancer, or problems because of it. I have two daughters that I plan on seeing graduate from high school, and if they choose, to get married. I want to see them grow into adulthood.

I am not the only one in this situation. There are millions of other people, not just cancer patients who would have faced other dire circumstances if insurance companies were able to deny health coverage. In my last post, I mentioned about cancer not discriminating, especially by age. Millions of children are treated for any number of illnesses, and live long and fruitful lives. And they need that coverage.

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