Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Testimony of Hillary StPierre on House Bill 89

House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee
January 13, 2011

Hi, my name is Hillary St.Pierre. I’m here to testify against the passage of HB 89. The new health law needs to remain in place in NH.

Please excuse any difficulties I may have, I had a surgical procedure and received chemotherapy on Monday to treat my Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

I was diagnosed with lymphoma 4.5 years ago when I was a newlywed with a young child beginning my career as a registered nurse.

I thought upon diagnosis that I would never have to battle for health insurance coverage since I was an RN and my husband is an aerospace engineer with an established career and what we still consider good coverage.

I was better prepared for cancer than any other 23 year old I have ever met, but if it were not for the new health law eliminating lifetime limits on insurance coverage and regulating annual limits, I may not have received chemotherapy on Monday. I would not have been able to undergo a necessary surgical procedure, because I am threatened with exceeded my lifetime limit.

I have undergone countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and two bone marrow transplants.   The treatment of my cancer as a chronic disease, using routine low dose chemotherapy agents,  is tough on my body but it is what will allow me to survive as long as possible.

It has allowed me to see my child grow from 2 years to seven. It has also allowed me to share my story and counsel countless others who have been diagnosed with cancer and to advocate for a stronger, safer health system.

I am thankful for the new health law, because I no longer have to live in fear my fight will be ended because of an insurance company’s bottom line.

During my battle, I have lost the ability to feel my hands and feet. I have lost 2/3 of my lung capacity. I’ve lost the ability to practice a career I love. I’ve lost the possibility of ever owning a home, but I have survived.

Without the new health law, trying to pay out of pocket for my healthcare expenses would not solely bankrupt me and ruin my credit, it would kill me by forcing me to choose between medications and food and shelter.

Even if I found a way to continue chemo, such as through cost shifting to Medicaid or Medicare, just one of my prescriptions costs over $700 monthly, and I take 20 medications daily.

Repealing the new health law is not a cost effective option for NH or its citizens.

After a recent severe attack of graft vs. host of the eye, where my left eye swelled shut from microscopic particles scratching and inflaming my tissue, threatening my sight, I was offered the  cure through an off-label trial at the cost of $150 every three weeks.

We've reached the point where the hypothetical health question, "If the cure for cancer existed would anybody be able to afford it?" can be answered.

That answer is no.

Please look around the room. Look to your right and left. One in two males and 1 in 3 females will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. No one knows who will be affected next, and no one can predict how their treatment will be covered.

If a young RN, who graduated valedictorian of her class, and her aerospace engineer husband cannot afford to get sick, no one can. This could easily be any one of you or your parent or your child in my position, please think about how you would like them protected and vote against HB 89. 


stonepost said...

Hillary, this is a wonderful testimony and I am sorry you had difficulty in presenting it. There are TWO distinct problems we are encountering with any effort to establish some kind of workable National Health Care. They are interconnecting and both have to be addressed. One is the money issue and the difficulty in explaining that National Health Care would be less expensive than what we have now. Part of this issue is the understanding that what we have now doesn't work. We spend more money by far than any other country on health and we do NOT live longer, healthier lives.
The other issue, and this is the real hurdle to overcome, is our religious background and our National psychie: we believe that some people are not worthy of help and others are. Some are more deserving than others. Some have worked "harder" than others. Until we can shed this idea from our beliefs the problem is not solvable. We are the ONLY industrialized nation on earth without National Health Care and there are historical reasons for this. It is not just money.

Anonymous said...

Reading this has me in tears. Well done for speaking out about health insurance.
My father and brother had cancer and now my mother does.
I'm going for a mammogram and ultrasound because of two growths. Cancer sucks. No one should have to worry about whether or not they can afford treatment.

Valerie said...

Put simply, you are my hero.

Loraine Ritchey said...

Hillary I have posted your tyestimony on my blog with my own lead in- you are obne wonderful woman Loraine

Loraine Ritchey said...

oops sorry for the typos was typing too fast as usual and multi tasking Loraine

Lucy Edwards said...

Thank you for your courage and endurance. None of us should have to live in fear that we will not receive treatment that can save our lives. Healthcare should not be rationed by how rich or poor you are. We are better than this.
I fear that the representatives will not hear you. They have heard the voices that matter to them, and they are not the rest of us.
So NH will end up in a lawsuit or two, in a time when our budget is under great pressure. But those who must be obeyed by our reps will be obeyed.
Many of us are working to find the tools we need to make changes in 2012, but I just hope and pray that no one loses their life over this.

Joan said...

Dear Hilary,
Thank you for your testimony on the new health law last week in Concord. These representatives needed to hear your story. Please do not dwell on any difficulty you had in delivering your remarks. It in no way diminished the power of your message or your courage in facing your disease and in advocating for everyone who needs access to quality, affordable healthcare.