Cathy has stage 4 breast cancer -- and she does not have health insurance. She decided to go public with her story in the hopes of shining a light on the disgraceful refusal of both political parties in the US to guarantee its citizens even the basics of health care -- something everyone should be entitled to simply by existing. (Laura blogged about Cathy here.)
Fifty million Americans have no access to health care (despite what the Republicans claim (and the Democrats are little better)). For most of us, it's hard to get a sense of such a huge number, so here's the story of one of those 50,000,000 people:
My name is Cathy Baskin. I've been married 32 years, have three children, all above the age of 26, and six grandchildren ranging from one year to age 17. In my former life I was an Oncology and Hospice Nurse.You can make a donation -- as little as $10 -- through this webpage. Note: Your donation will become an actual payment only if the listed goal of $3,301 is met. If it is not, all pledges will be voided.
In 1996, I was involved in a serious car accident that effectively ended my nursing career. My husband is self-employed, so, as a nurse, I had carried all our health insurance.
In 2002, I felt an egg-sized lump in my breast, and went to the doctor. Even though he felt it, too, the mammograms had come back clean, so he decided it was "nothing". He didn't even do a biopsy. I was 44, pre-menopausal, and had fibrocystic breast disease. Taken together, this means mammography results are all but useless. But I had no health insurance, so there was no follow-up.
By the following year, the lump had grown: my left breast was almost twice the size of my right. In February 2004, I was finally diagnosed with Stage 3b breast cancer.
Drug companies helped me pay for my initial treatments. After six months of chemo followed by radiation, then more surgery, I was clear for about six months. Then the cancer metastasized to my bones.
I am now in Stage 4, no longer considered curable. No more help from the drug companies.
After my doctor wrote a letter confirming that my cancer is terminal, I was able to get disability benefits and Medicare. This does help, as it covers 20% of my chemotherapy. But 20% of $50,000/month still leaves a lot.
We earn $200 more than what Medicaid allows, which means I must pay for most of my Medicare benefits. This leaves $700/month for all our personal and household expenses. I've come to realize that there is nothing I can do about the financial aspect of having cancer, so I don't worry about it anymore.
What I do worry about a great deal is keeping our house. Our mortgage payment is only $700/month. We couldn't rent a place in our area for less than that. My husband's work van has almost 400,000 miles on it. We have spent more than $600 worth of repairs on the van this month alone so that he can continue to work.
I spent the better part of August and September in the hospital. The very day I came home, my car's transmission crashed. Now I am stranded. There is no way I can afford to fix it, nor would that even be wise, as the car would still need another $500 to $1,000 in other repairs. So now I must find friends who can drive me to my doctor appointments and chemotherapy sessions.
I feel stuck. What little control I thought I had has gone up in smoke.
Please help me raise the $4,000 we need to get a decent used car.
If I were being asked to donate money, I would want to check out the truthfulness of the story. So please feel free to visit my website.
If you enjoy this blog, I hope you'll consider helping Tim and Cathy. I'd be thrilled if they had a reliable car (and maybe some extra gas money!) by the time the Red Sox clinch the 2008 World Series.