Interlude: “My kids are now 10 and 7, and they’re going to remember me.”

Listen to one Texas woman’s story about living with incurable cancer — living with it, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Her name is Nicole Stewart Cortez, and she’s just one of millions of people who rely on the ACA, which is still under attack, even as the GOP fails again and again to pass a “Trumpcare” replacement that would leave tens of millions of people, like Natalie, without health insurance. Donald Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell haven’t given up, and neither can the resistance: Keep calling! Keep faxing! Keep emailing!

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Can’t listen? We’ve posted the episode script below — something we’ll be doing for all of our episodes as part of our commitment to accessibility.

But first, here are links to the resources we talk about on this interlude:

TRAITOR RADIO INTERLUDE: KEEP CALLING!

ANDREA GRIMES: Hey, Traitors — it’s me, your host, Andrea Grimes. I want to pop in to share one woman’s story about living with incurable cancer — living with it, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

< TRAITOR RADIO THEME SONG WITH PIANO AND STRINGS >

ANDREA: Now, you’ve probably heard that Trumpcare — the GOP’s attempt to replace Obamacare with nightmare legislation that would take insurance away from tens of millions of people and leave millions more Americans to die without Medicaid — is dead. The GOP doesn’t have the votes either for a repeal and replace or for a repeal alone. As of 4:30 p.m. pacific time on July 19th, that’s the word. But the word is ALSO that Senator Mitch McConnell and Trump are jumping back into meetings and threatening their fellow Republicans with tough primary challenges if they don’t fall in line. In short: We have to keep the pressure on every senator and congressperson to keep Obamacare in place and improve it, not erase it.

That’s why I want you to listen to this woman’s story. Her name is Natalie Stewart Cortez, and I reached out to her after seeing this video, which went sort of viral on Facebook, at least among my friends in Texas, where Natalie lives. She gave me permission to share the audio here on the podcast with you. Natalie has some trouble getting through this without crying — it was originally a video posted to her Facebook page — and probably you will, too. I’ll pop back in with a couple of suggestions for how you can keep pressing your lawmakers on this issue.

< MUSIC WITH STRINGS >

NATALIE STEWART CORTEZ: My name is Natalie, and I’m living with incurable metastatic cancer. When I was 35, I was diagnosed with colon cancer and my kids were just five and two years old. This is my family, right after my diagnosis. After that, I went in for surgery and treatment but unfortunately the cancer just keep coming back. Luckily, I live in Texas, and was able to get to M.D. Anderson cancer treatment center. So over the past four years, I’ve endured 56 radiation treatments, over 80 rounds of chemotherapy, and four major surgeries. Those surgeries have included a colon resection, a resection of my uterus, a placement of an ostomoy, a placement of a nephrostomy, a posterior pelvic exeneration along with inter-operative radiation.

I missed my daugther’s fourth birthday because I was having my ribs spread to remove tumors from my lungs. I missed my son’s eighth birthday because I was in the hospital for three weeks recovering from complications related to the transplant of my right kidney to my lower left pelvis.

[ crying ] I am the living, breathing example of the exceptionalism of our healthcare system. My kids are now 10 and 7, and they’re going to remember me. But that’s only possible because I was diagnosed in 2012 when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was in place. And there were no lifetime or annual caps on my private health care insurance. Because if there had been, I would either be bankrupt or no longer with my family. So I’m urging you to contact your representatives and oppose this GOP healthcare plan. Because it allows the waiver of essential health benefits, that means that private health insurers can impose lifetime and annual caps on your private health insurance.

I know so many young parents who are fighting just to be here for their kids. Over 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and the rate of colon cancer is supposed to go up 90 percent for those over the age of 34, just in the next ten years. Please think about the protections that you would like to have in place for yourself, your kids and your family. Because when the person who’s counting on you looks like this:

Natalie holds up a picture of her child, wearing a pink skirt.
Natalie holds up a picture of her child, wearing a pink skirt.

And you look like this:

Natalie holds up a photograph of her in a hospital bed after her cancer diagnosis.
Natalie holds up a photograph of her in a hospital bed after her cancer diagnosis.

You’re not in a position to negotiate. That’s why you have insurance. That’s why you pay your premiums. We do have the best health care in the world. And we shouldn’t cap out people who need access to it the most. Call your representatives.

< MUSIC WITH STRINGS >

ANDREA: Part of what killed Trumpcare this time around is grassroots resistance from average Americans. That’s not just me cheerleading or speculating, it’s part of what political operatives told reporters in a New York Times story today. Keeping the pressure on lawmakers in both parties reminds them how important the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid are to hundreds of millions of people. SO. Your homework is to call, fax or write your senator and congressperson and tell them that you want to keep Obamacare so that it can be improved, not repealed. Remind them that Medicaid works and that Medicaid expansions are backed even by Republican governors. For a more thorough script on this, head over to 5Calls.org — that’s the number 5 c – a-l-l-s.org. To FAX your senator and congress person — which is my preferred method of contact, because it literally puts my words into someone’s hands AND doesn’t involve the mindblowing horror of speaking to a real person — go to FaxZero.com, and right there on the page you’ll find links to directly fax your folks. Or, you know, pick up the phone – google “who represents me” (or find a link in our show notes) and get calling.

< TRAITOR RADIO THEME MUSIC WITH STRINGS AND PIANO >

ANDREA: Thanks to the dozens of donors who make Traitor Radio a reality. In particular I want to thank Aria, Shannon, Aspen, Merritt, Scott, Teresa, Caitlin and Jacob, our Traitors of Record who’ve pledged $5 or more per month to support the podcast. If you want to join badass bunch of Traitors who get thanked by name on every episode, check us out at Patreon.com/TraitorRadio. We can’t do what we do without your financial support.

This episode was produced by me, Andrea Grimes. Our music is by Emily Meo. Follow us on twitter at @TraitorRadio, and find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TraitorRadio.

 

 

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