One artist's journey: Trying to live a creative life with grace, grit, gratitude...and a border collie.
(or perhaps I should say: greys, grit and gratitude)

25 June 2017

These Boots are Made for Washington - Part 1

It is 5 AM and I am sitting in an airport waiting for a flight. I already miss the morning birdsong serenade, view out my windows, my critters and the serenity of my home. In a few hours, this introverted Montana artist will land in in the teeming urban chaos of Washington DC…completely out of my element.

A few days ago, I shared the story of a journey that began with a terrible loss resulting in a label of “preexisting condition”. That story, fortunately, did not end with my cancer diagnosis years later…but continues with the worries and fears that many fellow Americans face today.

My story drew the attention of The American Society Action Network and they are sending me to the Capitol to represent Montana along with survivors from the other states. We are going to share our stories with the people who are about to vote on the GOP healthcare plan, in hopes of bringing compassion back to the mix.

Since sharing my journey, I have heard others that make mine feel like a walk in the garden with a bluebird on my shoulder. So many Americans have stories of tragedy made worse by the healthcare system (or lack of it) in this country. I have heard from people destroyed by insurance companies, health care costs, and about parents still writing a check every month trying to pay the bills incurred with the loss of a child (or children) decades before. I have heard from doctors, anesthesiologists and other caregivers who insist that no one would ever be given lesser care due to their insurance (or lack there-of)…and from others in the field who admit to serious problems along those lines. I have heard from cancer patients who are forced to jump through hoops to maintain or get coverage when they should be focused on healing and recovery. The system is broken, and has been for a very long time.

The ACA was created to try bring some of the madness under control…it wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it was never intended as the be-all and end-all. Rather than fix the parts that don’t work, the GOP wants to repeal it entirely and strip healthcare from a frightening number of Americans. Millions of us will lose access to healthcare under the same plan that will give billions in tax cuts back to the wealthy. Ironically, many of those who stand to lose the most are the GOP’s own constituents, including Americans insured by the ACA who want so badly to get rid of “Obamacare”…and do not realize that they are one and the same.

For a party that runs on a pro-life platform, it is ironic that the Americans that may be hit the hardest by the GOP version of “healthcare” will be pregnant women and their families. To read over the plan is to be sick at heart thinking of how many Americans will be hurt, if not destroyed, by this travesty of a “plan”.

For me, personally, the preexisting condition that a complicated pregnancy tagged me with has been replaced with a more ominous one: “cancer”. As a self-employed cancer survivor, the GOP’s AHCA assures that I will not be able to get insurance that is even remotely affordable. As I begin the journey with another health issue, the GOP puts my very life in jeopardy along with countless others.

The truth is…I don’t want to be here in this airport and certainly don’t want to go to DC. As an introvert, this whole thing goes completely against my grain. I am not a public speaker, certainly not a politician…just an artist/survivor who just wants to live my life and make art. I’d rather be home with my ponies and pets, waking to the birds, digging in the garden, slinging paint at the canvas on my easel and thinking about the next painting.

The more compelling truth is that I have a story to share, a story with which many Americans can empathize…a story worth telling if it changes the mind of even one of the men about to vote on the AHCA. On Tuesday, I will take a deep breath and step completely out of my comfort zone to stand up for one thing: all of us.