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Perspective: Luck.

National Cancer Institute

2020 has not started off well for my wife, Wendy. Not long after New Year’s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  


She did not court this: cancer does not run in her family, she has never smoked, drinks little, exercises regularly and eats far better than the average American. As her surgeon at Swedish American told her, she was a “one in eight,” meaning she was one of eight American women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.  


All that said, we are fortunate on two counts. First, her chances are excellent to make a full recovery with as good a team of doctors and nurses as anyone could hope for. Second, we can easily afford the deductible and the out of pocket expenses tied to her treatment. 


But we wish everyone could be as lucky as we are on the second count. The stress of a diagnosis like this is bad enough. Neither one of us can fathom the added financial stress of the medical cost for treatment. If Wendy had gotten this same diagnosis 20 years ago, when our three daughters were under the age of six, when our income was a third of what it is now, and with no real emergency fund, our long-term financial health could have been shattered. I think that explains why medical costs rank in the top three reasons for declaring personal bankruptcy in this country. 


Every developed country on this planet has free and universal health care except the United States. If those countries can do it, why can’t this one? 


I’m Andrew Nelson, and that’s my perspective. 


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