I have a family history of cancer…I have a family history of a lot of things, but one thing at a time.
My great grandmother, grandmother, and mother all had breast cancer. My great grandmother and mother had colon cancer. My great aunt and mother had thyroid cancer. My grandmother, mother, great aunt, and two cousins have thyroid disease. But for this tale, I’m only going to focus on the breast cancer.
Because of my extreme family history of breast cancer, I was told by several doctors to start getting mammograms at age 29. I even went to a breast specialist who said, in no uncertain terms, “If you don’t get breast cancer by 45, we should just remove your breasts preventatively, and do reconstructive surgery.” This was when I was 29 years old. This was also just before my wedding. You can imagine the strain it put on our relationship when I had to tell my (now) husband, “Hey, babe! Sure you wanna marry me? I mean, you could be in for some REAL shit in a few years.” He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless, he persisted, and here we are, almost 11 year later, but I digress.
So I started going to get my breasts flattened between plates of Lucite, and told to hold my breath as I had to hug a cold machine. I went every year, religiously, with a note from my doctor on the prescription that said, “High Risk/Family History.” I made sure that I would only go after 366 days, lest the government tell me I’m abusing my one free mammogram. But they weren’t free. Because every year…Every. Single. Year. I would get a bill from the insurance company.
My husband and I have insurance independently from any job. We’re both freelancers, and when I was working full time, the company I was working for was so small that it didn’t have to provide healthcare. We pay our bill every month, and it’s not a small amount. On paper we made too much to qualify for Obamacare subsidies, but we have insurance, which is more than a lot of people can say, so I’m thankful for that.
So, about these bills that I get…Well, I know the amounts are arbitrary because every year, it changes. One year it was $300, another it was $800, another it was less than $100. The bills don’t change as I get older, they just bounce all over the map. Why? I have no clue.
But just as every year we get a bill, every year my husband pulls out a file with letters to the insurance company from doctors saying how getting mammograms will save my life and all that. We can usually negotiate the bill down to something manageable. However, in light of what just passed the House today, it doesn’t seem to really matter, does it?
I don’t know if my family history will be used against me, or my endometriosis, or my arthritis, or anything, and I know I’m not the only one. I know that, despite the situation I’m in, there are people WAY worse off than we are. And it’s those people that I really worry about. Especially when Representatives are literally ADMITTING they did not read the wording themselves. To me, that’s contracts 101. But, hey, I heard running the government was hard.