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I was sitting in Starbucks writing and blogging when this man I had never seen struck up a conversation. We began talking politics and it ultimately turned to health care. I was not sure where he stood on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) but he sure hates the American health care system.

It turns out, Ron Julian is at that age where he is close to qualifying for the Medicare he earned working all his life. He is however, as a small business owner, without health insurance. It is simply too expensive for a man his age. He went overseas for cataract surgery and said he would get any major surgery overseas until his Medicare kicked in.

After discussing Ron’s international form of acquiring health care, he told me about his niece Rhonda Julian who recently had a bout with breast cancer. He told me to call her up and to check out her website. Her website left me completely inspired. She detailed her complete breast cancer ordeal with an openness rarely seen.

Rhonda’s daughter Jada accidentally elbowed her on her breast one afternoon. She went to the doctor a few days later when the pain/swelling did not subside. It turned out that elbow from her daughter resulted in her discovering she had breast cancer.

Rhonda’s approach to handling her diagnoses was both brave and inspirational. She first leveled with her daughter and told her, “You saved mommy’s life.” Most importantly she made her daughter an integral part of her breast cancer ordeal in a positive manner by keeping her involved at every step of the way.

She created a website. Her website became one of her stress relievers. What it also became unbeknownst to her, was inspiration to some and support for her from afar.

Read Rhonda's full story below the fold.

Rhonda is a resident of the state of Massachusetts. She had recently moved back to the state. A month before the discovery of her breast cancer, she had a bout with kidney stones. At that time she did not have insurance. The individual mandate in Massachusetts meant going forward she had to have insurance, in her case partially subsidized.

Because Rhonda had insurance she had no fear of going to the doctor. She knew she would be covered. She knew that visit would not bankrupt her. She said, “If I did not have insurance, it would have been a big issue for me.”

There are millions of Americans outside of Massachusetts who would have put off going to the doctor. They would rather take a chance than to lose the little they have. How many Americans have died because their states, their country did not provide a human centric health care infrastructure as opposed to a profit centric one?

Rhonda’s story is a happy one because her state government earlier than most decided to do right by their citizens. Her story is proof that it isn’t only older people that should have reliable health insurance, but the young as well. Even a 29-year-old can get breast cancer.

When the Affordable Care Act is implemented fully in 2014, Rhonda’s story can be the story for most in similar situations. Unfortunately for millions in red states where governors have inhumanely decided not to adopt the Medicaid expansion of Obamacare, many will die unnecessarily.

After receiving lots of support from her community, Rhonda wanted to do something to give back. She created The Paint Her Pink Foundation. On Oct. 20 her foundation will be hosting the Paint Her Pink Ribbon Rally. She intends to raise breast cancer awareness in her community by wrapping trees in pink ribbons in several of the surrounding parks.

Julian said many young people never think about getting cancer yet alone breast cancer. She wants to use her foundation to foment awareness in young women. She also wants to make those who are going through the treatments to feel good about themselves throughout the process. After all one heals better with personal positive affirmations.

Rhonda Julian is not a particularly political person. She is a single mother who works to take care of her family. She makes up a part of the complicated American fabric. Because she lives in a state where her government is responsive to the needs of its people, as difficult as her breast cancer ordeal is, she has the support of her government and her community. Good government should be seamless.

Would it not be wonderful if her story was possible in every corner of America? Those that oppose universal health care, Obamacare being that transition, ensure that many with Julian’s difficult but bearable experience with breast cancer will be relegated to an inhumane and debilitating experience.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 01:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Monday Night Cancer Club and Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for passing this on. (42+ / 0-)

    I know a woman who will really appreciate this.  And her husband, too.

    "Where some see a system for encouraging discussion . . . others see an echo chamber of bad grammar, unchecked stupidity, and constructive interference . . . " -- Ars Technica

    by Rikon Snow on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 01:41:45 PM PDT

  •  About as good as it gets for having healthcare (18+ / 0-)

    coverage that is affordable.  A very strong and courageous lady for sure and I wish her and her family the very best in her recovery and their future.  Thanks

  •  My beautiful niece (36+ / 0-)

    had cancer and her employer did not offer health care coverage. She went broke getting the diagnosis.

    A talented computer person she was able to switch jobs to a company that had health insurance, for a smaller paycheck.

    She had to work six weeks to get coverage and this while being weak and sick.

    She was only 40.

    She was told she should have received treatment earlier. It was too late.

    She died last December and left 3 kids.

    It would not have happened with the ACA.

  •  Courage is beautiful (10+ / 0-)

    Where guns go, stupid seems to follow.

    by mojave mike on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 02:02:59 PM PDT

  •  I sympathize with Ron Julian (15+ / 0-)

    I went without insurance for 4 years before I qualified for SS Disability and MC.
    We also need more good news such as his niece's to show how the ACA will change lives.

    Lindsey Graham is making the rounds crying about his good buddy who owns 50+ Wendy franchises.  He now insures 40% of his workers (and the rest are on MCD or do without, I guess) and if he has to insure another 20% he will have to shutter his doors.

    The average Wendy's franchise grosses around $1.5M annually.  Graham's buddy is surely in the million $/ AGI club and having to provide insurance will shut him down and put him and his family begging on the street?

    What does he do when franchising fees increase or the price of beef goes up or the cost of utilities or taxes?  He raises the prices of his products a few cents and carries on.  Graham needs to explain why his buddy can't simply pass costs on to his customers?

    (Actually a healthier workforce would benefit the owner with higher productivity and smaller chance of sick workers coming to work and infecting the whole workplace.  I don't go back to a restaurant where the food handlers are all coming down with the sniffles)

  •  Recced for this comment. So true. (7+ / 0-)
    Good government should be seamless.
    Good diary, Elberto.

    In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, eleven children escaped. What if...

    by Sixty Something on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 02:22:12 PM PDT

  •  Lucky woman, to have such a support network (9+ / 0-)

    all across the country when she is in dire need. Her website really is brilliant, too. I wish her and her family all the best. Things are looking good for her so far.

    In case anyone reading this diary and comment thread is interested: There is a Daily Kos group and series, the Monday Night Cancer Club, which we describe like this:

    Monday Night Cancer Club is a Daily Kos group focused on dealing with cancer, primarily for cancer survivors and caregivers, though clinicians, researchers, and others with a special interest are also welcome. Volunteer diarists post Monday evenings between 7-8 PM ET on topics related to living with cancer, which is very broadly defined to include physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects. Mindful of the controversies endemic to cancer prevention and treatment, we ask that both diarists and commenters keep an open mind regarding strategies for surviving cancer, whether based in traditional, Eastern, Western, allopathic or other medical practices. This is a club no one wants to join, in truth, and compassion will help us make it through the challenge together.
    Diary topics do vary, but they're also always a sort of open thread where people can check in with each other. Tomorrow's diary happens to be about prostate cancer, by someone who is grappling with some of its implications right now.

    Anyone is welcome to visit, read, comment, follow or join the group. Please feel free to Kosmail me if you'd like more information.

    Thanks for the diary, Egberto. It's definitely timely.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 02:25:45 PM PDT

  •  Uplifting story! (7+ / 0-)

    Healthcare is a Right, not a privilege; at least, that's how it should be, especially here in the wealthiest country on the planet.

    And Lindsey Graham needs to get real.  Restaurant workers need healthcare too.  There are no benefits really in the restaurant industry, in most cases there are no sick days, no paid days off etc., so when a worker is sick they have to come in and work and handle your food, and on top of that many aren't able to see a doctor and get treated in a timely manner.  And so remember when your eating a low-cost burger or a "reasonably priced" meal at a casual dining establishment, you may not be paying much now, but the prices are artificially low (subsidized), and you end up paying much more later.

    The Democrats care about you after you're born. --Ed Schultz

    by micsimov on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 02:28:10 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for writing this, Egberto, (6+ / 0-)

    my breast cancer was found because of an inadvertent knock to my breast too, although it was found by my husband and not my daughter. I was fortunate to have excellent health insurance and care and I am participating in a clinical trial which is changing the way some forms of breast cancer is treated. I'm fine now but tired of hearing people say they don't think government should be involved in health care.

    "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass... it is about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Vivanne Grenne Shop Kos Katalogue!

    by remembrance on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 02:46:22 PM PDT

  •  Healthcare in Canada (9+ / 0-)

    For those who use Canada as an excuse to criticize a single payer system, and talk about waiting lists, specifying Canada's experience as typical of the "flaws" in the system, this personal anecdote is for you.

    I live in a Canadian province thought of as a "have not" province, essentially one that is on the "wrong" side of federal equalization payments. We have a burgeoning "senior" population, not unlike most areas as our boomers age.

    We are not rich people, perhaps middle class with an average income. While on vacation recently, my partner suffered a back injury on a roller coaster (she's 61) that got more excruciating painful as the day wore on. We were due to return to Canada the next day, and the afternoon of our arrival she immediately went to a nearby clinic. She was seen almost immediately and the feared "pulled muscle" was suspected as something potential more serious. She was given an injection of a muscle relaxant to relieve some discomfort and sent forthwith to the emergency dept. of the local hospital. The emergency dept. works on a triage basis, and her injury was deemed sufficiently serious that she was seen within 20 minutes. The next 1 1/2 hours she had an X-Ray, subsequent MRI, bone density scan and bloodwork. The diagnosis was a severly compressed vertebra caused by moderate osteoporosis. She was scheduled for an appointment with a osteopath specializing in osteoporosis the following week.

    She is now on a treatment regime of drug therapy, naturopathic supplements and a stabilizer for her bone density. She is also receiving treatment at a rehab center focusing on building up her back muscles. Other than the cost of the naturopathic remedies, there were no charges to us for the services.

    We as citizens pay a VAT specifically targeted for medical services. The treatment we received was no more nor less than any other citizen could expect. Throughout all the stress and pain of my spouse's injury, we never gave a thought to "How can we pay for this?".

    For those that do, my heart goes out to you. That a country as rich and powerful as the USA cannot find the wherewithal to provide like-minded healthcare services for all their citizens, something that is available in almost, if not all, modern first-world countries speaks to a fundamental flaw in the character of some of your decision makers, one they should be deeply ashamed off.

    Quality healthcare is a basic right of citizenship, much like clean water, shelter, food and clothing. It isn't socialism, it is the natural progression of a modern society. Why do they refuse to see that?

    •  That's the way it is here in Norway, too. (0+ / 0-)

      Wouldn't have it any other way!!  
      (In spite of income tax upwards of 50% + 25% sales tax on goods and services.)

      There are some quirks, as I suppose there are in all such systems.  I think it's weird that antibiotics are only subsidized, not free, as they are not necessary for a chronic condition.  Likewise birth control, as it is considered to be voluntary.  And we'd all prefer that dental were covered for adults as well as children.  (Dental is on its way for us all, starting with psych and some other patients and the elderly. That is, unless the new far right government stops that progression.)

      But to be scared of potential large medical expenses is unthinkable!

      Good luck to all in the US; it looks to be going in the right direction.

      The opposite of pro is con. So what's the opposite of progress?

      by DSPS owl on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 07:15:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Quality health care is a basic human right... (0+ / 0-)

      I wish I could recommend this 100 times!  I don't understand where the notion comes from that Canadian/European health care is so much worse than that in the US...but the stigma, unfortunately, remains strong.  

      One of my daughters spent a year going to school in Canada, and although she was not a Canadian citizen, all of her health care costs were covered, including medication that she needs that cost her I think $4 there, and which costs us $140 here.  And no, when she fell off her horse and hurt her back, she didn't have to wait to be seen--they took her back right away and did all the tests, etc. that she required.

      Two years ago, when our family was in England, my grand daughter came down with a very high fever.  We weren't sure what to do about that, but eventually realized she needed to be seen by a doctor.  My son-in-law, a Brit, found a doc to take her to, and she was seen THAT DAY, discovered to have strep throat (via throat culture test, etc.), and given medication to treat.  And we were not charged one penny for the exemplary service.  

      Now, we in the US can continue to imagine that health care in other nations is always like it is portrayed in movies about Jack the Ripper or in Gothic English novels, or we can see  them as they are, and make informed decisions about our own care accordingly. Sadly, willful ignorance is the hardest kind of stupid to overcome.

      One man with courage is a majority. Thomas Jefferson

      by Jewelies42 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:32:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh many years ago now, fortunately, (6+ / 0-)

    I had a little tiny bump in my armpit, pink, maybe the size of a pinhead. Initially I didn't think much about it. I'd just gotten married, and then was looking for a new job. Once I had one, insurance did not kick in for six months, and the bump was bigger. Something about it made me nervous but I waited. At six months and one week, after three phone calls verifying the insurance was real, I made an appointment with a doctor. By then the little bump was the size of a nickel. Biopsies - three, as the insurance company would only accept the diagnosis of their lab - finally revealed melanoma. Surgery revealed it was in my lymph nodes. I fought those suckers at the insurance company the whole time. I lived, but only due to fighting. If I'd accepted the insurance company's decisions, I would not be here now.

    "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

    by cv lurking gf on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 04:16:56 PM PDT

    •  That six months waiting period--- (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VPofKarma, cv lurking gf, Jewelies42

      thank heaven that's over with now. Because, like, we'll take your premiums for 6 months before covering you. And should you make a claim within 2 years (the "look-back rule") to getting insurance? You'll have to fight fight fight.

      SO glad to hear that was many years ago now for you.

      Oh, I used to be disgusted
      Now I try to be amused
      ~~ Elvis Costello

      by smileycreek on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 04:38:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ...that RomneyCare apparently sucks... (0+ / 0-)

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

    by paradise50 on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 04:47:43 PM PDT

  •  I have insurance (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pundit, DSPS owl, Jewelies42, lunacat

    And I am three weeks post mastectomy. I am still waiting to find out if I need chemo, but already know I will need radiation.

    I work for a really small company and am thankful for the coverage I have. I'm fortunate that they offer insurance that will cover not only myself, but my husband as well, since he's been unemployed for the last two years because his company moved to Mexico.

    I also know that we will have to file bankruptacy when everything is said and done because of deductables, out of pockets and co-pays. And since my treatments will extend into the next insurance year, I'll have double the deductable, out of pocket and co-pay.

    The system is still broken. No one should have to go broke because of medical bills.

    •  Just because you have insurance doesn't mean (0+ / 0-)

      it's free.  
      My sympathies and encouragement regarding your diagnosis...you could be in for a tough fight, and I hope you will fight, just not with your insurance companies, at least not yet.  I hope you will tell your story from every web site, blog post, newspaper, and street corner that you find, because this is the truth of our health care system as it is.  

      My husband and I faced a similar fight, which I shared in my (extremely lengthy) diary post here last week,
      ">Heroes in health care?

      about our experience with health insurers, hospitals, and expenses after a car accident and his diagnosis of a heart condition.  We are very strong Progressives, but he does everything the Republicans claim are their values: is married, owns a business, pays his taxes, has insurance, etc....and yet, our adventures cost us over $40,000 just for the last three months of 2012...and there was no one there stepping up to help that "job creator" keep his business afloat or to pat him on the back for-what? Surviving? Paying our premium to the poor li'l insurance company that may not show RECORD profits next time? Or not giving in to the idea that we had to declare bankruptcy in order to stay alive?

      No! No! No!  GTM, You fight for your life...chances are, your doctors and the medical folks around you will do everything they can to get you better.  They can be as frustrated as the rest of us when the insurance companies step in and deny stuff...the last thing you need to think about when weighing your options for care is what it will cost! And hopefully, starting next year, a lot of the out of pocket stuff will be eliminated by the ACA. My very best wishes to you for your fight...and your recovery!

      One man with courage is a majority. Thomas Jefferson

      by Jewelies42 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 12:22:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mother and daughter obits today. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, pundit

    My local newspaper, the Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times, had two obits side by side today, one of a 29-year-old woman who died of breast cancer and the one next to it of her mother who "died suddenly" the same day, no cause given.  They will have a joint funeral.  
    We may never learn anything more about these deaths, including whether lack of insurance played a role, but those obits are inexpressibly sad.

    Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government -- Bernie Sanders

    by OnePingOnly on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 07:34:16 PM PDT

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