Real People Have Real Problems. We Aren‘t Just Numbers

Lou Hall, Sr.
Warrensburg, NY
United States

I was able to eat a hot dog tonight, and while that alone might not otherwise be newsworthy, it was important to me, as I’ve been on a feeding tube since last October. In June of last year I was diagnosed with stage 4 ethmoid sinus cancer, which had spread to three lymph nodes in my head and neck. In the beginning I was scheduled for craniofacial surgery, to be followed by 37 radiation treatments and three super doses of cisplatin chemo. After one last CT scan a few days before the surgery, they found a fourth location in the back of my head that was so close to my throat, they decided the risk wasn’t worth the possible irrevocable harm that might occur, so it was decided that radiation and chemo alone would be the new game plan. Unfortunately this included having to have all my teeth removed before treatments began. I wasn’t happy about that, but I wanted to live too, so I had them taken out, and I haven’t been able to eat much in the traditional way since. So the hotdog tonight was a big deal.

It was a long, difficult winter to say the least. Most of the time I felt like I was in a coma, but by God’s grace and a huge amount of support from family and friends, I made it through, and have been deemed cancer free from my last PET scan of about two months ago. It was a huge relief as I felt like I had been through enough, and I definitely wasn’t looking forward to surgery if the cancer hadn’t been cured.

So why have I decided to share this publicly now? I felt it was important to share the rest of the story too.

The great recession of 2008 just about killed my business. After eight years of bankruptcy courts and fighting foreclosure, I finally lost my home. God only knows how I made it through. Nevertheless, it left me without health insurance or any ability to pay for it. A few months after the Affordable Care Act became law I made a phone call to see how much it would cost to buy insurance rather than be faced with a fine. To my surprise I was eligible for Medicaid, and eventually last December, Medicare. I really had caught God loving me through all the financial difficulties, as when the cancer struck it would have left me in so much debt I would never have been able to repay it in this lifetime. I don’t know the exact amount of money this last year cost in total, but my best guess with several emergency room visits, oral surgery, and actual hospital stays, it must be somewhere in the six-figure range.

I’ve worked my entire life since I was in high school. I made some bad decisions along the way, but I wasn’t expecting to find myself in the financial straights I ended up in. Frankly, I expected to work till I couldn’t stand up anymore, but it just didn’t unfold that way. So my point in all this is to say that real people have real problems. We aren’t just numbers. The pending health care legislation will hurt real people, people you know, people you love. Please take a stand.