• Letter of the Week—March 12th, 2012

    I am writing this sitting next to my daughter's hospital bed at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Our daughter Leslie is 23 years old. She graduated from Fordham University with double majors in acting and directing last May. She has been living and working in New York and getting some paid acting work while looking for a "survival" job to help pay the rent—nothing very unusual in any of that.

    But just a few months ago, on the same day she received a job offer from a retail store, Leslie was diagnosed with a non-Hodgkins T-cell type lymphoblastic lymphoma. Cancer. Leslie's world was turned upside down. All her dreams—the dreams we would like every young person to be able to live out—were either crushed outright or put on indefinite hold. Within 48 hours of diagnosis, Leslie had been admitted here at Sloan, and was receiving chemotherapy.

    Her cancer is highly treatable and responds well to chemotherapy. Leslie began her treatment on November 18th. It will be a long road—24 months of active treatment—but there is a good chance that she will be cured. Not a guarantee, but a chance. A chance that we would do anything in our power to give her.

    But Leslie turned 23 on January 9th, 2012. Before the Affordable Care Act the President proposed and was able to get passed, Leslie would have lost her health benefits through my employment on that date. And with her diagnosis, before the Affordable Care Act, she would never have been able to buy insurance at any price. The cost of her care is huge; and even though we are fortunate to enjoy a high annual job income, we are basically a middle-class family with a mortgage, and paying for that care personally would bankrupt my husband and me.

    Because of the President, our daughter will get the treatment she needs. Because of the President, Leslie gets a chance to save her life. Leslie voted for Barack Obama in 2008, the first national election in which she was eligible to vote. She had no way of knowing then how critical that election would be to her personally; but she believed in Barack Obama then, and she believes in him now, more than ever.

    The treatment to cure Leslie's cancer is harsh and painful. I watch my daughter struggle daily with bone pain, nausea, chills, constipation, hair loss, skin rashes … it is an ugly litany of indignities and varying degrees of discomfort, overlain with the gnawing fear that the chemo won't work. But each day she struggles on, fighting for the life that she wants to live. And every day we thank Barack Obama for giving her the chance to do so.

    In a few months, we have been told that the most intensive and difficult part of Leslie's treatment will be over.

    Our family has made contributions to the President's campaign efforts ever since he became a national candidate. We have already contributed this year and today made a monthly commitment for the 2012 election. We do that because we think America needs the President. And we do so out of gratitude for our daughter.

    Thank you for listening.

    —Bonnie, Connecticut

    Letter of the Week Parents