Friday, January 20, 2006

What Little I Can Do for a Sick Friend.

I've been wrestling with this post -- whether and how to write it -- for a few days now. As the subject matter appears to be interfering with my blogging, it appears I need to do this. I am breaking format here. Not only am I writing about a national issue, I'm writing about something personal.

Earlier this week I got some terrible news. M, the wife of D, a friend from college, has cancer in both breasts that has matastisized to her lymph nodes. I'm getting all this second hand, so details are a little scarce, but this doesn't sound good.

And for some reason, since hearing this, I've been unable to write without blocking. Part of it is standard-issue emotions. I've wrestled with the "I'm knocking on middle-age's door and mortality is knocking on mine" emotion and the "I'm worried about my friends and their two young daughters" emotion.

And, heavily, the "injustice of it all" emotion. Look, no one deserves to go through something like this. But when a couple like D & M get hit, it's tempting to say "God, now you're just being a dick." These are wonderful, positive people in love with life, with their God, with their family, with each other. That something like this happens to someone like that and not, say, a certain underacheiving Doubting Thomas misanthropic blogger from Akron never fails to baffle me.

And finally, we have the "I just want to fucking do something" emotion. As to this, I'm pretty much stuck as D&M live a couple of time zones away. But then someone sent me an email bearing one of those God-is-seriously-screwing-with-you-now coincidences. Right now, Congress has before it HR 1849 and S. 910, the "Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2005."

The bill would require health insurance plans to cover a minimum of 48 hours hospitalization following a mastectomy. Apparently, women are now being discharged in as little a 24 hours against the wishes of their doctors. Having gone through relatively minor surgery last year, I can't imagine being ready for home a day after major surgery.

This is the fourth time Congress has considered such a bill. Each of the three previous Congresses let the bill die in committee.

So what little I can do about this personal crisis involving far away friends is exhort my readers to lend their voices to this legislation. Lifetime is collecting signatures on an online petitition. For those who want a little more direct action, you can contact members of the relevant subcommittees. In the House the bill currently sits in the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Boener and Tiberi are the Ohioans sitting on it. In the Senate it's in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions which includes Mike Dewine. You can click through the links to the committee homepage and follow the links their to member websites with contact info.

Thanks everyone for helping out with this, for putting up with my sullen silence and, while we're at it, for supporting the Akron Pages.


scott bakalar said...

Very difficult situation for you as a friend - your intervention is perfect.

This legislation is much needed and overdue, thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Hope both M and D are well.

Jill said...

Breast cancer has wreaked havoc in my family history, Pho. I get checked every six months. Thanks for this post, I wish your friend the best of luck (my mom is a 23 year plus survivor - double mastectomy but clean nodes, no radiation or chemo - they didn't do that back then as routine; her mom died of breast cancer at the age of 52 and I have three other direct relatives who've had it, two who died) and I'll get on those contacts you provide.

Jeff said...

Thanks for this post. A close friend of mine was also diagnosed recently, fortunately it appears not to have spread. I signed the petition. My best wishes for your friend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this. I am an almost 4 year survivor. It is not a death sentence. It is a bad thing to happen, tho. The treatment is not pleasant, but that's OK. It helped me be where I want to be....right here, still involved in lots of things.

I'll say a prayer for your friends.

Jill said...

Hi Scott -

Here goes:

I signed the petition.
I went to Boehner's site and clicked on contact him only to be told I can't because I'm not in his district. I'll be faxing my letter to him later today.

Went to Tiberi's site. His contact page uses some form that weeded me out to Tubbs Jones. AND he has not fax number. So...snailmail. Ugh.

Went to DeWine's site. Filled out the email form and when I clicked to send, after about 90 seconds, I got an error page. I went back a page, clicked submit again and instantaneously got a Thank you! Whether it went through or not, I have serious questions.

Why am I telling you this? BECAUSE I THINK IT OUT AND OUT SUCKS that it takes more than twenty minutes to try to contact Ohio reps and senators and the route to not a single one of them was direct. SHAMEFUL and OBSTRUCTIVE. Sorry - strong. But that's how I feel. Absolutely awful. I don't care about the volume. They're our reps. Sheesh.

Ok - last thing - and I posted this in my blog entry, if congressional representatives only have to be inhabitants of Ohio, then they should be RESPONSIVE to all of Ohio, no matter what district they come from. That only from my district stuff is nonsense. Put those folks, first, for sure. But don't eliminate the ability for an Ohioan to contact you as easily. It's THEIR job to prioritize the needs of the Ohio people. Why should I be funneled out?

Ok - that's my rant. I hate it when I try to be a good citizen and the system doesn't let me. UGH.

PS - I saw that Chris Dodd is on the senate committee with DeWine. My brother worked for him and he knows my dad bla bla bla so I'll write him a letter. I would hope he supports it already.