Saturday, September 5, 2009

Healthcare Letter: a letter written by Christi Tillis to Glenn Beck

I have a BRCA1 genetic mutation. Approximately 1 out of 500 women carry this mutation, drastically increasing their chances for cancer. At 31, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to a compassionate, cooperative team of doctors at Moffitt Cancer Center, I was able to choose how I wanted to battle the disease. Because of my increased risk, I was aggressive with my early, Stage 1 cancer, opting for a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, reconstruction, hysterectomy, preventative drug therapy, and routine follow up care. Other oncologists have told me that much of my treatment was unnecessary, but I wanted to be certain that, if my cancer ever comes back, I will be able to say that I did everything I could. If it returns, it won’t be because of inaction on my part.
I have a daughter that is 8 years old and she has a 50/50 chance of inheriting my genetic mutation. She can test for that genetic mutation as early as 16. If she tests positive, she can choose to surgically remove her breast tissue and ovaries preventatively, reducing her chance of developing cancer dramatically. She could also choose to try preventative drug therapy or increased surveillance with frequent mammograms and testing. These are all options that she would have at her disposal in today’s world of cancer treatment.
I am terrified that the healthcare system is about to take one giant step backward and these options will not be available for my daughter. Instead, Anna will have to undertake a treatment plan designed for her by a board of doctors, insurance representatives and possibly even government bureaucrats and their decision will undoubtedly be based primarily upon cost.
Today, I heard a report that says that in Great Britain, the drug I take to reduce my chance of developing a recurrence, Arimidex, is not widely prescribed to breast cancer survivors because it is expensive. I searched online for verification, but I couldn’t find it… but I did find this quote:
“In the U.S., women have a 63 percent of living at least five years after diagnosis, and men have a 66 percent chance—the highest survival rates in the world. These figures reflect the care available to all Americans, not just those with private health coverage. In Great Britain, which has had a government-run universal health-care system for half a century, the figures were 53 percent for women and 45 percent for men, near the bottom of the 23 countries surveyed.” Quoted from Would Universal Healthcare Wreck Cancer Treatment?

People in their twenties or thirties like me, never stop to consider that they will get old and they will become one of these statistics. They only look at the cost of coverage. Although my coverage is expensive, I always felt like my insurance company had my best interest at heart. I would continue to find a way to pay for my insurance no matter how much my premiums go up because I know the value of private medical insurance when you need it.

I wanted to tell you that I appreciate your stand and your voice against Obamacare. Please don’t give up the fight… my daughter is counting on people like you.