I wasn't as busy helping out as some people last week as we built up what may become our own grass roots health care, but in the end I like to think I did my part.
A good friend was recently diagnosed with cancer. Her husband is a good guy, and they have two young and lovely daughters. She does have health insurance, but the family doesn't make much money, and she won't be able to work during her chemo.
My contribution to helping has included watching her youngest daughter on chemo day or day after chemo day, and I've taken a couple of meals to them on chemo day or day after day. I also donated some food for the art auction that was held to raise money to help out.
There's two sides to this art auction. The one side is that it shouldn't be necessary to do this, that people who get sick should be able to get care and not worry about losing anything. They shouldn't have to worry about their kids' well being. The other side is that an amazing community has formed around this. So many people donated art to the fund raising auction. Momma and her employer donated a sushi party. A number of friends created clothing and fashion accessories. A number of services were donated such as spa treatments and a massage. People that don't even know my friend that well have given time and money to help. A number of local businesses donated gift certificates, and some lucky someone ended up paying exactly the amount of the tattoo that they won in the auction. Of course there were a number of boxes of wine and twelve packs of PBR donated because that's how we roll.
Even now, two days after the event, I can still feel everything I felt then, having ridden the emotional roller coaster, the sadness of the necessity and the joy of friends and community, really the creation of a family, all gathered around this amazing person.
But I still can't help but feel angry. I'm reasonably well as far as I know, but I haven't visited a doctor in longer than I can remember. My doctor's front door for the past decade and a half has had a red sign with the word "Emergency" over it. That's no way to live.
I really don't have any plan to put on the table. I don't have any answers as to how to make it work, but I think I know what we need. We need a medical system that includes every single person in this country, and I do mean every single. I don't care if you're brown and are here illegally. I don't care if you can afford to pay or not. I don't care. I just know that we should all be able to go to the doctor whenever we need, and we should never face the chance of losing anything because of a sudden illness or a previously undiscovered condition.
And to the right winger that inevitably tells me they won't damn well be forced to pay for someone else to get health care I say, "Fuck You!" If we really have to hold art auctions and benefit concerts to take care of a sick friend then something is wrong with our system. If your health insurance tries to tell you that you can't have the chemo that will hopefully make you well again then something is wrong.
In just over a month there's another local event designed to help raise money for someone else who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Some of the people involved with that were at the auction, and many people involved with the auction are already planning to attend the next event and are figuring out what they can do to help. I don't know how far I can run in a pair of heels, but it might be worthwhile to find out. Who knows when it will be my turn to need some help.