Every Bride Needs Something Blue

Tales Of An Educated Debutante

on life, loss and the joy that rules the day.


The future is far away and scary, but today is lovely.

Adrian H. Wood, PhD

The Family

The Family

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 Adrian Wood Comments (2)

Once upon a time, there was a lovely family. A mother, a father, a son, and a daughter. The mother and father were raised in Ohio and children of educators and government employees. Middle class families, hard working, loving and life, though not always easy, was marked by grace. They married, moved to North Carolina, where their life was idyllic, in appearance and form: a boy and a girl, a nice home, a successful business and good health. Quite a rare treasure indeed and then one day, it ended.

The boy became ill, perhaps the flu he was told by an urgent care center, and so, he headed to his job each day at a marina. The boy's parents were worried though and soon hauled him to see the family physician whom they trusted. The blood work was alarming and the x-ray showed a very large mass. The doctor and family were worried and so, they headed to Duke University Hospital and left the worried girl with her grandparents at the beach.

It's a tumor, they said, the size of a softball in his left lung and we will need to operate immediately. The parents clung to one another as spectators and the doctors did removed the tumor and half of the boy's lung. It's not cancer, they said, and two weeks later, the mother, the father and the sister made the trek to pick up the boy. A nurse snapped a photo of the happy family, though the sister was uncertain. Life went on though and the boy had a wonderful summer. Fall came and the girl headed to boarding school and the boy went back to college and they lived happily ever after.

I wish that was the ending, but it wasn't. Soon, the boy was sick again and the boy went back to Duke. This time the doctors found six tumors in the brain responsible for a quick mind and wonderful sense of humor. The boy lived in ICU, the parents lived at a hotel and the girl was at Salem Academy. The father got a letter from their insurance company telling him that the boy's medical expenses wouldn't be covered because he was no longer a student, a stipulation of the policy. The nice doctor wrote a letter and explained that the boy was not going to classes because he was in ICU. The boy's professors each wrote a letter too, sharing the grades and perfect attendance of the boy who had a 3.0 even though he struggled with dyslexia. The insurance company conceded defeat and the boy received the very best care. A year to the day of this picture, the boy died, surrounded by his family.

That boy, that family, that story could be your story. Everything going just fine and then one day, a meteor called cancer strikes. What if there had been an annual cap on the boy's insurance? A million dollars in bills twenty seven years ago translates to many more dollars today. The boy's story was tragic, though marked by love and care and no one should be offered any less. The girl is pleading with you. The girl who was the smitten younger sister and misses that big brother every single day is telling you that your family's future is in the hands of your senators.

Stacy Waddell commented on 28-Jun-2017 10:21 AM
Thank you for beautifully articulating this sad reality through your story. I'm so sorry for your loss. We recently moved back from Australia, I had a pre-existing health issue, before Obamacare I would have been uninsurable and unable to move back to my country of birth.
Newsletter Signup commented on 29-Jun-2017 11:58 AM
My husband and I, too, experienced a surreal day when I, the picture of health, was diagnosed with a malignant tumor the size of a grapefruit splayed across my ovaries. We were already in the private insurance market with a $10k deductible before our insurance provided anything more than an annual physical. Fortunately, once we covered the annual deductibles, we found we'd chosen adequate insurance for a prolonged but not endless battle. Over the next 3 years, we still spent more than $60k on my care much of which came out of our retirement savings. We were the lucky ones with resources to stretch to get the drugs and the drugs worked! But, the day I was diagnosed, I was forever changed as I saw the world spinning normally while I struggled off balance to right myself for the fight of my life. That day, I dove into our insurance file and read the details of our insurance coverage. I thought of those without the resources to cover the deductibles and those without a "real insurance policy" with adequate coverage for extraordinary events. Yes, I promise that once you are a cancer family, you understand that all this talk of "choice" is utter bs. Once you have cancer, you better pray the insurance you "chose" actually has coverage sufficient to pay for your care. It's my belief that won't happen for those with fewer resources unless there are government regs requiring you be offered a policy with adequate coverage and government subsidization to help pay for it. Free markets are only obligated to make their stockholders money. American families will not be better off for unfettered capitalism calling the shots on their health care. The real conversations we should be having are ones about the cost of insurance, the cost of health care and the cost of drugs. Instead, we are having a coded conversation about "choice" which encourages Americans to buy crap insurance that will not care for them when the chips are down. Cowardly politicians are still lying and spinning just as the world I am lucky to still inhabit still spins too. When will Americans wake up and hear the message behind the surface lie under girding the "choice" argument? Will it only happen when they too are diagnosed with the big "C" or an equally awful, equally debilitating illness?

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