Thursday, October 4, 2012

Debate Reality Check: "This Election Is A Matter Of Life Or Death For Me"

The wake up call came at 2am last night, arriving in my email inbox long after the cool kids on Twitter were done snarking on Obama "sucking ass" or Romney's "zingers".
"I'm not sure if this will do any good..... I am terrified right now," The letter began. "The media has decided that Romney won the debate. And now the spin will happen. And no one seems concerned that this election is a matter of life or death for me.  I am in remission from a rare cancer."
Deborah, the writer, is part of the 47% conspicuously absent from last night's debate.

Living in a tiny Del Rey apartment with her husband Jonathan, the couple barely gets by now on $28,000 a year - their income cut by a third in 2009 when Deborah was fired following her cancer diagnosis.

"My only income is Social Security Disability. My only hope against anything going wrong again is Medicare. Without them, I will be homeless at best within a month. At worst, I die. I can't think right now. I can't sleep. I need to know that someone has a plan to not let a smirking, smug man who cannot put himself in my shoes run the country. I need to know that my only prospect isn't burdening my 76 year old father just to keep breathing."
Deborah and her husband used to have catastrophic health insurance through their employer. But it cost them $600 a month with deductibles so high they could never hope to pay them off.  So they dropped it.

Then Deborah was diagnosed with a one-in-a-milion cancer of the appendix. A cancer so rare few doctors have even heard of it, let alone know how to treat it. But Deborah was one of the lucky ones. She sought treatment at the Venice Family Clinic, and a social worker with LA County USC hooked her up with the one doctor at the UCLA Medical Center who knew how to treat her cancer.

She's been in remission for two years. But the chemo attacked her joints, her nervous system. It killed the cancer but left her permanently disabled. And the cancer, of course, is out their lurking. Waiting.
I feel like there is no point in trying to survive, because all I'm seeing are games.

Perhaps it is unfair to put all of this on one man when the world is so complicated, but I am simply terrified -- fair or not.

I need to know that someone is listening......

I called Deborah this morning and asked if I could share her story. Because her story is a story that wasn't told last night at the debates. Her story is the inconvenient truth swept under the rug. And it should be a wake up call for all of us.

                                                                      Getty Images
But Deborah (she asked that I not use her or her husband's last name) doesn't think of herself as a victim. In fact, she thinks she's lucky. She beat back cancer, she has a roof over her head and food on the table. Her husband, Jonathan, found another job, although part-time and for less pay than he used to make. They're hopeful Jonathan might be able to get a flu shot and basic physical this year.

But Deborah is terrified for the future. She's 52, Jonathan 49 - they have no savings, no margins for error. No employer will hire her with her medical issues, and while Jonathan can buy new health insurance from his employer for $200 a month, they can't buy coverage for Deborah. She relies on Medicare to literally keep her alive.

Debrorah's story is my wake up call, my reality check about what's at stake in this election. And now, I hope it will be yours.

Before I hung up with Deborah, I asked her if there was anything she would tell Mitt Romney and Barack Obama if she could.

"It's not about numbers on a ledger," Deborah told me. "It's about people trying to survive." 

No comments:

Post a Comment