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breast cancer survivor

Kathleen Dunleavy is a communications professional and officer of her community association. She lives in Eagle Rock.

If I didn’t have health insurance, I couldn’t have afforded to live through cancer. And I wouldn’t be writing this now.

At 38 years old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was lucky: I had health insurance through work.

The recent, capricious threats that the Trump administration and Paul Ryan, in particular, are proposing to our current health system are shocking. They horrify me, not only as a cancer survivor, but also as an American.

What if I lost my job? What if I get cancer again when I’m retired? What if my insurance is taken from me?

If I didn’t have health insurance, I couldn’t have afforded to live through cancer. And I wouldn’t be writing this now.

There are many moments when I have to make the decision not to dwell on these nagging anxieties. Like several friends I have spoken to, I want to stick my head in the sand and forget that Trump with his propaganda machine and thuggish threats ever existed.

But I’m a survivor. I am a pre-existing condition. I am an American, raised with a strong belief in our democratic process.

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I think and worry about the people out there who may be healthy now but face the dark side of Trump and Ryan: Those without a job, disabled, or temporarily unable to work, retirees and others hitting hardships who will get life-threatening diagnoses, just as I did, and will face a mean, profit-in-overdrive health system that will do worse than turn them away. Trumpcare (itself a misnomer) will ignore them and their suffering. It will punish them for sickness and for pre-existing conditions that weigh down on corporate profitability.

I want to fight against Trumpcare, but some days it feels overwhelming, a challenge so big I wonder if my part will have any impact at all. Like many Americans, I am tempted to do nothing by heeding the excuses: This doesn’t affect ME, and it's not right NOW, right?

But like many survivors, I cannot accept excuses. None of us can. We live in a democracy. I’ve proudly voted in every election since I first could vote. Fighting for healthcare is another opportunity to participate and shape the fate and health of my country.

We can do something together, something local. We can make ourselves heard. We can let lawmakers know that Trumpcare takes away care and gives away billions by cutting off lifelines for millions of children, seniors, working people, and women like me.

Please join with me and members of the East Area Progressive Democrats and volunteers of the campaign for Assembly of Luis López, who is dedicating his office and staff and resources to the push to protect our hard-won healthcare. We are making calls for the next week to 3 western states so Republican Senators there hear loudly and plainly from constituents: Vote NO and Save Our Healthcare and Stop Trumpcare's Rip-Off.

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I am doing my part and hope you will too.

Kathleen Dunleavy

Kathleen Dunleavy is a communications professional and officer of her community association. She lives in Eagle Rock.