Short Story

A couple of days ago, a good friend (male) confided that he’d gone in for his annual checkup, and his doctor had found prostate cancer. Fortunately, it was very early, and the prognosis for full recovery is excellent. His surgery would be outpatient, and he’d be home the next day.

I commented that this was exactly why those annual exams are so important, especially for those of us getting along in years. He nodded his head, and proceeded to share a story.

He has a friend–a tennis buddy–who skipped those check-ups for three years. When he finally went to the doctor, he also had prostate cancer, but it was already stage four. They could slow it down, and give him an extra year–perhaps two. But that was it.

He’d skipped those physicals because he’d been between jobs, and without health insurance.

With all the talk about “Obamacare” and the focus on costs and mandates and political ideologies, we sometimes forget the consequences of our current system for real people. This man will die many years before he otherwise would. Those are years he won’t spend with his wife, won’t watch his children and grandchildren mature and grow, or play tennis with my friend.

If you don’t care about the human equation, I’ll just point out that these are also years he won’t pay taxes, and that the medical costs of treating him at this stage vastly exceed the costs of curing my friend at an early stage of the disease–prevention and early interventions are far less costly than later treatment.

Sometimes, a story tells the story.


  1. I am sorry to say this sad case will be exponentially multiplied if Republicans take the next election. No person should be left without basic health care. We needed a public option in the Affordable Health Care act but that was negotiated away. So depressing.

  2. I agree. My mom is the reason I am a major proponent of ACA. She began to get ill my senior year in HS. By 2007, she was hospitalized for at least one week, sometimes twice a month.

    Because of her illness, he job terminated her in 2003. Though she filed for SSI-Disability, it was a long time before she qualified for medicare. During those years, she paid nearly $800/month. This was a bargain, as she had the resources and the hospital bills were outrageous!

    Had she not be labeled as a pre-existing condition, and been able to stay insured at a reasonable level I think she may have been diagnosed sooner–or at the least would not have exhausted nearly all of her life-savings by the time her illness had claimed her life.

    Medical bills, as much as the illness, profoundly effected my mom. She was fortunate, her and my father had worked hard during their peak years and managed to save a nest-egg. ACA is the most necessary piece of legislation I can recall Congress passing. I hope that the GOP is held in check and unable to dismantle it.

  3. As my husband continues his job search (his position ends Dec 31st), we are looking abroad for his next position. We do not have faith that Obama will be elected and even if he is, this country is so divided we want out. Health care is considered a basic right in this household. My husband grew up in London and had health care paid for by his income tax. About 3% of it actually and their tax rates are similar to the Americans. He cannot fathom why Americans are fighting this Healthcare law. He thinks profit for healthcare is immoral and unethical. I think it’s barbaric that someone has to purge their assets to pay for healthcare that is provided abroad for reasonable costs and NO ONE goes bankrupt or homeless because of medical treatment. Guess we’re socialists. *shrugs*

  4. I’ll tell you, there are days it’s tempting to jump to a different country. I’ll give you that.

  5. I have 100% faith in President Obama even though I do not agree 100% with some of his decisions. My fear and dread that he could lose this much needed reelection lies in the ignorance and gullibility of Republicans who blindly follow the money trail of Romney, Ryan, the Tea Party and the NO stance currently in the House. President Obama is being blamed for the lack of forward movement in this country and improvement in all problem areas he was left with by Bush, Cheney and their cronies.

    Had Obamacare been in effect late 2008 and early 2009 my granddaughter would have had access to proper medical care and medication. Family and friends helped as much as possible because she couldn’t keep a job due to her seizures but could only provide her with anti-seizure medication, not birth control. She opted not to abort knowing her pregnancy further endangered her already life-threatening seizure condition and that she could not continue taking anti-seizure mediation. She died at age 24, 5 months pregnant, with horrible seizures. My friend Jen, in her late 30’s, was diagnosed early with breast cancer at a Planned Parenthood clinic. They saved her life with early diagnosis and referral to qualified treatment. If Romney and Ryan are elected, more young women like my granddaughter will die due to lack of medical care and unlike my friend Jen, who had access to competent care at Planned Parenthood, will die needlessly. These men and all Republican men have mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, girlfriends and neighbors whose lives they will endanger. More fine men will die of undiagnosed cancers and other diseases due to lack of medical care while the rich get competent coverage and care and make their rich doctor friends even richer. We must do all in our power to fill as many open political positions with Democrats in November. It matters NOT that we don’t fully agree with all they say; what matters is stopping the current Republican downhill, dead-end rush to the collase of this country. Never forget that Bush and Cheney almost succeeded in doing that during their eight years in the White House.

  6. Sheila, Thanks for another Timely and Important post ! The one result of my 4 tours in Vietnam that I most appreciate, is my Lifetime VA Health Care. Each visit with my Doctor begins with looking at my Lab results, and the first thing I want to discuss are my PSA’s. The Doc’ usually wants to talk about my Triglycerides, but I get the news about my Prostate health First. With the AMA and others presently telling us that the physical examination of the Prostate Gland, (Unpleasant for Dr. and Patient), is more important than monitoring of the PSA Levels, now is a good time for Stories like this Tennis player’s sad tale. American’s need to hear such stories because the “Other Side” has so distorted the costs and coverage of The Affordable Care Act, that We need all the Help we can get to re-inform the General Public about the benefits already in place, years prior to the full deployment of “Obamacare”.
    No, It isn’t perfect yet, and many features will be refined as time goes on, But, If the misguided Voters listen only to the false voices of Fear coming from the Republicans, they may elect a team who’s main goal is to defend the Economic Power of the Health Care Industry by repealing the Only National Health Care Bill Ever passed by our Congress.
    While we’re talking about misguided Voters, All Sane and Moderate Writers in Indiana Need to learn, (and Spread), the Truth about the Messianic Mike Pence, and Rabid Richard Mourdock ! These are Two of the Most Dangerous Candidates Ever to disgrace a Ballot in Indiana, or Elsewhere in the US.
    O.K., enough of my Rant for Today 🙂 Thanks Again for Your Always Great Posts and Stories, Herman

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