Is there a safety net?

The Avenue News - - Letters | Editorial - Anna Re­nault ave­newsanna@ya­

Call­ing all leg­is­la­tors! What hap­pens when some­one gets can­cer — loses their job but life goes on? What if you’re too sick to work, do you qual­ify for dis­abil­ity pay­ments? Even­tu­ally, maybe, if you’re sick enough with­out hope of re­cov­ery! How­ever, you must go 6- months with­out in­come to qual­ify. Do you have enough money to pay bills for six months with­out in­come? What if you have to choose be­tween pay­ing the elec­tric bill or pay­ing for food or pur­chas­ing medicine? Just the ba­sics. If there are chil­dren, there are also ex­penses too.

How does one live with­out in­come? I had paid sick leave. There were still ex­tra ex­penses. The every­day bills along with co- pays for chemo, doc­tors’ ap­point­ments ( of which there are many) and ad­di­tional ex­penses for rou­tine med­i­ca­tions for blood pres­sure and such things. Some can­cer pa­tients also have other health is­sues chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease, heart prob­lems and other chronic health con­cerns like di­a­betes. Does life go on? Evic­tions? Util­i­ties shut- off? Car repossession?

Yes, there are large can­cer or­ga­ni­za­tions that col­lect mil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery year. Do they help pa­tients who are in need of fi­nan­cial help? No. The Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety and Su­san G. Komen are two of the largest, best known or­ga­ni­za­tions that col­lect mil­lions of dol­lars each year. They also pay huge salaries to their CEOs. They spend mil­lions on ad­ver­tis­ing and mil­lions on the much needed re­search that pro­duces the tests for bet­ter di­ag­no­sis, drugs for bet­ter treat­ment while look­ing for the causes that will in­crease our abil­ity to pre­vent the in­ci­dence of can­cer. But they do not pro­vide funds to can­cer pa­tients to help them keep their home. They don’t pay for their med­i­ca­tions nor pro­vide money to help keep the life­style go­ing so folks don’t sit in the dark when the elec­tric com­pany turns off the power due to lack of pay­ment.

Sadly, state and fed­eral leg­is­la­tors have not cre­ated a pro­gram to help us live while we fight for our lives. Un­em­ploy­ment says you must be able to work in or­der to col­lect from them. Wel­fare doesn’t give you enough to cover all your bills. Per­haps now is the time for our del­e­gates, sen­a­tors and Con­gress­men to de­velop such a pro­gram be­cause there is no safety net.

There are no overly gen­er­ous do­na­tors will­ing to fund an or­ga­ni­za­tion that will sup­port some­one for a year — pay their elec­tric bill; give them free phone ser vice; pro­vide food, cloth­ing and main­te­nance med­i­ca­tions. Think about this: Some­one has a job or even a busi­ness and has a few thou­sand dol­lars in the bank. They see the doc­tor in May; go through tests in June; and get a di­ag­no­sis of can­cer. In July they have surgery and re­cu­per­ate in Au­gust. In Septem­ber they start chemo which lasts about four to six months. Then a month of rest is fol­lowed by a month or two of ra­di­a­tion ther­apy that in­cludes a daily trip to ra­di­ol­ogy Mon­day through Fri­day. Then, in some cases you are done — it’s been a year in hell! You are bank­rupt with no home, car or job. There is no safety net!

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