Thank You, Blue

Today is a good day. A grade-A, blue-letter, amazing good day.

I realize not everyone feels the same way about the election results. But even if you don’t, perhaps especially if you don’t, please take a deep breath and keep reading.

Thank you to those of you who voted blue. Thank you for voting for my survival.

There are, of course, way more important things for which you voted, and I have little doubt that of all the things on your mind when you cast your ballot, I wasn’t one of them. That’s more than okay. You still voted for my survival, and I am still grateful for it.

Does it sound like I’m over-stating the significance of this election to me personally? Allow me a little personal historical contextualizing.

The timeline of Trump’s time in office has paralleled the timeline of my battle with cancer. That parallel, however coincidental, has impacted my struggles directly. I was first diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in June 2016. At the time the US was wrapping up primary season, getting ready to select presidential nominees, and in July 2016, each party chose their candidate. Like many–including many Republicans at the time–I could scarcely believe Trump had been selected. The presidential campaign only got more vitriolic and surreal as it progressed.

October 2016

I finished that first round of intense chemotherapy in October. I was scheduled for a mastectomy in December, to be followed by radiation and later reconstruction surgery. The prospect of the first female president being elected was a bright spot in an otherwise extremely difficult autumn.

And then the unthinkable happened. Though Hillary won the popular vote, an ill-spoken, misogynist, xenophobic TV personality eked out enough votes in the electoral college to take office. I cried that night, and more than once in the days after. Given my personal challenges at the time, I needed hope. For me, Trump was the opposite

The four years that followed have been tough. I’ve had two recurrences, the most recent diagnosed in November 2019. The immunotherapy I was on for several months stopped being effective in March 2020, just as the novel coronavirus emerged as another threat. A new chemo drug received FDA approval in April, and fortunately I was able to begin receiving it, but one of its primary side effects is low white blood cell counts, placing me in the high-risk category were I to contract COVID-19.

Masked up for you and me!

So. I’m over here, fighting cancer, fighting to stay safe from a global pandemic, fighting to retain some optimism about not only my personal future but also the future of the country and the planet, and meanwhile we have a president in office who is anti-science, anti-mask-wearing, and anti-environmental protections. His lack of leadership contributed to the spread of the pandemic (which also damaged the economy). His administration wants to take away health care options that could leave those of us with pre-existing conditions without care (or send us into bankruptcy trying to get it) without offering anything better.

I could go on, but the bottom line is this: I am alive right now, and have a prospect at a future, because of FDA-sponsored clinical trials, a.k.a. science. I can only stay safe in my immune-compromised state if people recognize the pandemic is real and take precautions, including masking up. I will only be physically and financially secure going forward if I have access to health care that does not deny me care because of pre-existing conditions. And I can only hold on to the hope, strength, and optimism I require to keep going if I believe there is something better than the past four years, and that the majority of my fellow citizens want that better world for themselves and for one another.

The personal is always political, of course, and vice versa. From where I stand, if you voted for Trump, you voted against my survival. As much as I’ve gone through to stay alive these past four years, you’ll forgive me if I don’t find that one easy to stomach. If you voted for Biden-Harris, you voted for my, and many others’, survival. You voted for science. For leaders who model mask-wearing, who will listen to the CDC. For access to health care. Not to mention: For civil rights. For truth. You voted for life.

There’s so very much hard work to do yet. So much we as a country must grapple with, so much healing we have to do. This election was just the first step. But oh, how it matters.

Thank you, from the depths of my grateful blue heart.

My RBG Election Day homage

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