As defined in the dictionary:
1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
noun, plural -er·ies.
1. brave spirit or conduct; courage; valor.
2. showiness; splendor; magnificence.
I guess the most common way we would hear these words would be in reference to war or facing the danger in our city’s streets. There are other examples lived by millions in this country every day. Now the combat they face isn’t from an assailant or in combat with enemy forces; not physically anyway. No, the enemy they face if far more covert and unyielding. It’s known as Disease and goes by many names such as: Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, to name a few.
In my young life I’ve watched as friends battle these and others. It’s an awful, helpless feeling to sit on the sidelines and watch, knowing that there isn’t anything you can do to take the pain away or the worry. You want nothing better than to snap your fingers, or wiggle your nose like Samantha in Bewithced and make it go away.
I’ve had an up close and personal view when this battle hit our own family. The original diagnosis was back in 2004 and I can remember the day of surgery, I was waiting in the waiting room with a friend. We had hoped that it was going to be a simple surgery; a standard procedure to take care of a very common tumor. “Ms. MacGregor?” The nurse asked; “yes?” I replied. “They found some spots that look to be cancer. We are having the tissue taken to the lab and should have an answer within the hour. I just wanted to keep you updated” And before I could get anything out, she was out the door.
“Cancer!” I exclaimed to myself, “Ovarian Cancer.” My eyes welled up with tears and all I could think; and I know how mellow dramatic this must sound, but honestly, all I could think was that it should have been me. After all, I could handle this; not that she couldn’t but I’d already gone through several surgeries and with all the loss she has already suffered (there had been so much), she didn’t need this added onto everything else. This just wasn’t fair at all!
After months of chemo and prayer, she was in remission. She returned to work and all was back to normal. She was just about to celebrate her fifth year of remission when her blood test showed a rise in her count. Her cancer was back and the PET scan showed that it was in her lymphatic system.
Another operation, more chemo (much stronger medication this time) and tests would show that the treatments worked. However, this would be the start of a very mysterious bout of illness for over a year. An illness they would later find was an infection and a relapse of ovarian cancer; this time in her skin. In the meantime the infection compromised her Aortic Valve, bumping up the urgency to operate. They would replace the valve and then start radiation and possibly follow-up with chemo.
We each handle challenges differently. I’m a strong woman with the patience of a saint (truly). But much of the time it seemed that all I could do was get angry; however I did manage to spend some of my time in quiet prayer. Inevitably though I would end up asking the good Lord, why? Why her? I just didn’t understand. It seemed the more I tried to make sense of it all, the higher my level of frustration grew. I have discovered that I’m not a very patient woman in situations such as this. It’s just that I want the answer and I want it now (I’m working on this part of myself).
Now she is quite the opposite; she is a woman who is extremely patient, soft-spoken and kind. She always places others before herself and she never forgets a birthday or a thank you note. She always seems to have the perfect gift, whether it’s for family, friends or one of the nurses. Talk about ‘grace’; she has it in spades! What she faces, she faces each and every day with strength, courage and selflessness and is truly our mother’s daughter.
So many times we use these words (Courage, Bravery, Strength, Triumphant), and rightfully so, in reference to the war whether overseas or on the streets. But there are the many who live these words daily as they face their own battle and this battle doesn’t just stop at the battle for their physical life, it is also the battle for means.
Every day and all over we see the ads to “Walk for Awareness” to “find a cure.” However, with all the money being raised, what about finding support and money for those in the battle? How about giving them help to decipher through all the medical bills? You see, it’s more than just facing the disease, it’s facing the financial burden that years of treatments, therapy and disability/ unemployment can place on a person. We talk about Universal Healthcare as if it is such a horrible thing. But what’s is so horrible? That everyone get the treatment they need without the worry?
For those of you that don’t know, I’m going to paint a picture of what you can expect should you find yourself or a loved one diagnosed with cancer, let’s say. Going on the assumption you are insured, you will most likely have surgery. Then, if chemo therapy is the next step, you will go to the center and meet with several people. First, you’ll meet with your Case Nurse who will walk you through the process and introduce you around and show you the floor. Then you’ll go back to the office/conference room and wait for the Financial Coordinator to discuss money owed and payment options. That’s right – they waste no time.
You see, anymore, when you get treatment/therapy they want to make sure they get their money upfront. They calculate whatever it is that your insurance company won’t pay and then they come to collect. Now, most places will come up with some sort of payment plan where each payment is due at the time of each treatment. And I mean it’s due or you don’t get treated.
Here you are, your brain saturated with all the fears that the disease carries with it and now you are making a ‘deal’ as if you are financing a luxury car. All of the “Walks for a Cure” are all well and good, but what about assisting, truly assisting, patients on the financial end. At the end of treatment, a patient could owe upwards of 40,000 dollars. So you can see how if you happen to not be insured…well, do the math; that would mean no treatment. Should you receive something from the ‘county’ healthcare system? Certainly, it’s available… maybe. However, I seriously doubt the treatment you will receive will be as good as the treat received from a private hospital/insurance company.
I didn’t mean for this to be a political piece, but I did want to paint a picture of what so many people go through; it’s not just a matter of facing life and death. It must take a great deal of courage, a great amount in deed to be able to face all of this, all at once; all while you are at your weakest point both physically and emotionally.
I heard someone say that if a check can be the answer to your problem then you don’t have a problem. Maybe that’s true now more than I ever wanted to think, or what the speaker originally meant. Courage and Bravery wear many faces and the truth is that they belong to us all, whether we are the one in battle or on the sidelines in support. It is important to remember that Healthcare and its industry should be just that: in the business of Healthcare not “Let’s Make a Deal”