The results from some tests came back today. I have pancreatic cancer. It is untreatable. I will die in 2009. I am not telling you this for pity, or for whining. I have known this was coming for awhile, and have made my peace with it. I am telling you this to urge you on in your fight for universal health care. And to urge you to continue to fight to support the Obama administration, loudly, whenever you feel you can.
My doctor says it probably would not have made a difference, but I have delayed seeing a physician for two years, even though I have had a series of symptoms. I have been unable to qualify for health insurance that I could afford -- and even if I could, my cancer would have been deemed a preexisting condition unless I had the insurance before two years ago.
I cut back on everything -- movies, clothes, restaurants, hot water, air conditioning (in Texas), cost of each meal -- and saved up my money so that I could see a doctor. I still didn't want to spend so much, and delayed everything until the symptoms became too serious (I was taken to an emergency room -- and was booted to a county hospital when they found out I had no insurance, but made too much to qualify for medicaid.)
Eventually, I saw my doctor, and paid what I could. What was so frightening to me was not the fact that I was ultimately diagnosed with cancer -- again, it would not have made a difference with my type -- but the number of people I met in the waiting rooms who had done the exact same thing I had done. They had delayed and delayed seeing a doctor, despite the pain and difficult symptom, because they couldn't afford it. We all knew that their chances were far worse -- we were all at an oncologists office, and we all knew that delay made cancer fatalities far more likely. An air of acceptance permeated the room; we could not change where we were.
These people didn't have to be there. They didn't have to risk death. Many of my new friends, I have no doubt, will die soon because they could not get insurance.
This is the reality of the world we are in. Hopefully Obama will change things, although it will be too late for all of us in the waiting room. But these are the real stakes. This is what matters. I know why people are offended that Rick Warren is offering the prayer. I know Obama will do many things that anger people on this site.
All i ask is that, when you can, remember that he needs our support for the big things, so perhaps we should be more patient and forgiving on the small. The fight against universal healthcare will be vicious. The medical industry will get out all guns, and the Repubs will lap it up.
That is why we need Obama. So when you are angered by a small thing in the future, remember the big things. Remember those people in the waiting room, who all will probably be dead when the program is finally introduced. Remember me and remember my plea. The stakes are too high. It literally means life and death, for all those people who will be in the waiting rooms in the future.
Please, don't take our eye off the ball.
Thank you for all your kind words of support. Know this: There is no reason to be sad. My possibilities for the next number of months are endless. I can do whatever I want and not worry about the consequences. I will not be taking anything at all -- no clinical trials, no radical procedures. No matter how much I fight this year, it will still end the same way. Perhaps I'll buy a few more months, all while destroying the ones that I will likely get by doing nothing other than eating well and keeping myself active.
A friend of mine is going to fly me to London (where he lives.) From there, I will spend a few weeks in Europe, hitching and backpacking when I can. I've never seen Europe and I want to.
As for using myself to fight for universal health care, sitting on the steps of the Capitol as one suggested -- I can't. I have so much I want to do in the next few months, and I don't know how long I have. I don't want to wait to die. I want to take the opportunity to live.
So please, carry on the fight. Remember this plea. But you will have to carry the flag without me.
Also, in answers to other items here: Yes, you can send this post wherever you want. And I will stay in contact, although probably not when I am in Europe.
Love to all.
Again, thank you so much for all of your good wishes. It really does mean a lot to me.
I also wanted to make a few replies here. For those wondering about my background, I'm a 34 year old guy, I'm a contract employee in the sales division at software company, I've never been married but I am in a serious relationship with a woman I met four years ago.
As for my healthcare provider -- there is no insurance company to go after; I still don't have one. And my doctor/hospital are everything you would ever want. They have provided me with so much care, and have taken only what I could afford, and I had to insist that they take that.
Many people have offered to host me in Europe and I thank you for that. My friend and one other -- and hopefully my girlfriend, if she can get out of work without losing her job -- are taking me on this trip. Whenever we can, we will be staying at good hotels, all expenses paid (my friend is truly digging deep on this one.) I'm not sure where we'll be going, but I know I want to see France and Italy, in addition to England. That will be probably all I will be able to handle. I'm hoping that I make it through the whole trip without having to come back home early.
I know that I am going to have to have pain management, so there should be no worries about that. That has already become readily apparent. When I need to, I will use morphine. Also, my sister is making arrangements for me to go to a hospice when I need to.
As for the last part -- people feeling sorry for me. I do appreciate your good feelings, but please know this: The last number of weeks as I was building toward the obvious answer of my condition has been a time of astonishing clarity for me. It is almost as if the world is brighter, the grass is greener, the sky is bluer.
While I have tried to live a fulfilling life,and as much as I dedicated myself to things that mattered, I now see that I also wasted time on things that really weren't important. The things that matter are so clear to me. I have come to recognize that life is divided between those things we can control, and those things we can't. The secret of life is to recognize and accept those things that cannot be controlled, but to work like hell on the things that can be controlled to insure they come out as the most fulfilling as possible.
That is why I made my post. I cannot control my cancer. I know this. There really are no options that would not entail wasting my last months. But I can, in my own small way, contribute to making sure our community never loses sight of the things that matter, of the things we can change. We have total control over what we fight for. We should never waste time. Our world has been so damaged -- we have to direct our power toward helping people -- through health insurance, jobs programs, justice for all. Those are the big items. And we have the power to make sure things change.
But we also have the opportunity to change our own lives. Life is a glorious, wonderful thing. There is so much beauty and awe in this world. Please, whatever you do politically, remember to find the joy in your life. It's there, and it is in your control to reach it. Grab hold of it and never let go. And if you do, it doesn't matter when you die. Yours will have been a life well lived.
Again, love to all, and thanks. This will probably be my last post for awhile.