Kirby LewisBy Kirby Lewis,
Cancer Survivor and NCCS CPAT Member

Through my association with Living Beyond Breast Cancer, I was invited to attend a workshop Symposium with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. The CPAT Symposium was held just steps away from Capitol Hill at the Washington Court Hotel. It was a great, incredibly informative, and intensive 2-day training session.

Our members hailed from all over the country, with all types of cancer. In total, approximately 65 people prepared for our goal: to meet with our individual Congressional Representatives from our respective states with the purpose to STOP the proposed new health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). The reasons varied for each participant, but the major issues voiced were the BCRA’s elimination or decreased coverage of Medicaid, compounded by the aspect that it would not adequately protect against pre-existing conditions—two factors that affect many of us with cancer.

My fellow West Virginian, Isaac Whol, an economist. He was diagnosed with Leukemia this past year. His treatments are ongoing just like mine.

While you might still be employed, or covered under your spouse’s insurance, things have a way of changing. In this day and age, companies are not as loyal to their employees as was the case years ago. What would happen if the company was bought out? Again, job stability is not what it used to be. So what happens if your spouse loses their job, and you have cancer or another pre-existing condition? Under this new bill, you may not be protected. It was a necessary step to approach Congress and plead with them on a case-by-case basis.

[Editor’s note: Learn more about how the BCRA would weaken patient protections on our #ProtectOurCare page »]

I met with three of our state’s elected officials’ staff. It was not what I would’ve preferred, as NOTHING beats a face-to-face meeting, but you take what you can get. All three, my Representative and our two Senators, all recognized the need and, according to their staffers, were willing to work to protect Medicaid and the health care for the best interests of our state.

I left the Capitol, tired, relieved, and once again feeling blessed that somehow something I said during these meetings might resonate and make a difference. It is good to do advocacy work…and it is great to be part of the process that makes America the best country in the world.

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About the Author: Kirby Lewis attended the 2017 Cancer Policy & Advocacy Team Symposium in Washington, D.C. in June 2017. He is a two-time cancer survivor, and a resident of West Virginia.

Note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.