When Dawns and Davids Become a Goliath

In a breakfast cafe in Asheville, NC, Dawn heard from others who are fighting their own battles for health care. Though it was not the first time I had heard a mother speak of losing a child to an illness because he could not get the necessary treatment, I still found it impossible not to feel pain and frustration at what seems to be such a senseless and avoidable loss of life. That kind of loss leaves you at a loss for words, not to mention a loss for what you should do next.

But Dawn reframed and refocused my thoughts when she said, “Because we have to go through what we do, it makes us stronger, more powerful than any CEO.” Wow. Power. It seems that while we often praise those who share their personal stories to fight for what is right as strong, brave, or courageous, rarely do we ascribe to them power. That is usually left for those who hold titles and offices.

But Dawn is exactly right. With each city we visit, an energy is beginning to build. Voices that were once isolated, are speaking together; personal struggles are forming the basis for a collective battle.

The story of David and Goliath is a story told by the weak, about how they can defeat the powerful. What makes the story work is that, when the weak tell it, they become mighty, because they realize that one person can defeat those who have all the armors and trappings of power. While Dawn’s story is the same way, her journey goes a step further. With each person she inspires to join her, what I see is a band of Dawns and Davids not just battling the insurance Goliath, but rather, becoming their own Goliath that can defeat the forces that inflict so much pain on our country.

From the Back of the RV After Atlanta

This morning Dawn began her journey for answers and reform on the steps of Atlanta’s capital building. Though the past few years of her life while waiting in Cigna’s health care limbo have been characterized by debilitating physical pain, Dawn spoke today about of a type of pain which no treatment, nor any arsenal of medication, could help to alleviate–the pain of being made to feel insignificant. This, she says, is what chips away at you.

It seems to me that one of the most basic desires of all human beings is to feel as if your life matters, as if someone cares about whether or not–and how–you exist. We need to be significant. Today I was reminded that policies which reject patients’ claims not only deny people life-changing medical treatment, but they also serve to steal that sense of “mattering” which we all deserve.

It must end now. Cigna’s indifference, the calloused disregard for life, and their complacency with prolonging human suffering cannot go on because, Dawn, your life is NOT insignificant. You matter. And I am confident that because you are sharing your story and calling out insurance companies on their dehumanizing way of business you are helping to usher in change. You are ensuring that no other American will feel as if her life is insignificant because she cannot receive the care she needs or because she must choose between paying rent or filling a prescription.

You and the millions of Americans who are under- or uninsured are not alone. We stand with you. And we will not allow big business to chip away at any more precious lives.