I am a 59-year old African American wife and mother. On October 31, 2012, I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. I underwent several months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiation. I was in constant pain and missed a significant number of days from work.
Nearly two years later, I was laid off from my job. My husband is self-employed, and for the past 20 years, I carried our health insurance through my employment. But now I had no job and no health insurance for either of us. My husband has high blood pressure and he’s diabetic — both health issues require regular health maintenance and consistent prescriptions. Moreover, cancer left me with myriad health issues, along with disease maintenance.
Since being diagnosed with cancer, my husband was—and remains—my only caregiver. He is a self-employed painting contractor and property manager.
Severe neuropathy in my extremities meant my husband’s work schedule was often impacted because he transported me back and forth to work as well as to my weekly medical appointments. My illness not only affected my income, it also impacted my husband’s income.
The month after I was laid off, I applied online and found out my husband and I both qualified for a tax credit through the Affordable Care Act. We re-enrolled for this year, as well. Had it not been for the ACA, I don’t know what my husband and I would have done about our health care.
When I received our qualification letter, I cried and prayed for those who don’t understand what that means when you’re dealing with a catastrophic illness. My oncologist gave me two-and-a-half years to live. Had it not been for good health care insurance, I wouldn’t be alive to see the birth of my first grandchild.