The First Day of Our Journey

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We set out today with the well wishes of a great city behind us. At the capital, folks from all walks shared their health care stories with Dawn and we began collecting messages of support in pill bottles — the hallmark of our journey and how we will make CIGNA hear our voice.

On the Capital steps we heard from politicians and everyday Atlantans, all who recognized what needs to be done. We then went to visit the office of Senator Johnny Isakson, whose office staff offered to arrange a meeting with him when we arrive in DC — hopefully he will recognize it as well, and stand with her when we reach DC. With the wind at our backs, we slogged through rush hour Atlanta and then took side roads through the Chattahoochee National Forest on our way to Asheville.

The foothills of the Appalachian mountains swept by as we rumbled towards Asheville, and we got another glimpse about why we’re taking this on. We live in a beautiful, big country that deserves better from its health care system, and which can do better for its citizens.

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13 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Nellie Moore
    October 9, 2009 at 2:31 am #

    Dear Dawn and Team,

    My name is Nellie Moore and I am writing to you from West Central Wisconsin,on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border, about 35 minutes from Minneapolis/St.Paul.

    I am writing for many reasons, the first of which is to say I send my heartfelt appreciation that you have decided to take this journey and I wish you well and wellness as you make your way to the Capitol in Washington, DC. My hope is that you will have an audience with the President, as well as Congress, Senators, and CIGNA.

    I also extend profound thanks to MoveOn.org and their staff for helping you to make this possible. You guys are angels in human skin.

    I have included my blog link in the website area of this comment field and I repeat it again here http://wysewomen.typepad.com/wysewomen_llc/2009/08/index.html

    My sister, Barbara Dorothy Walters was diagnosed in June 2007 with an inoperable Glioma cancer located at her brain stem which is why it is inoperable.

    She has insurance and even with her insurance she had to jump though hoops from day one to get authorizations for the tests and care that she needed and still needs. She was diagnosed at the end of June 2007 and it took until The end of September, beginning of October to see an oncologist for the first time and then to begin seven and a half weeks of radiation therapy to her head. As so many do, she lost all of her hair, swelled up, and slept for days at a time for months. The tumor has neither shrunk nor grown for which we are very grateful. Her tumor is the same kind Senator Kennedy had, except his was in a different location and was the fast growing kind of tumor.

    To complicate the brain tumor she also has RA, Diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome. She needs to take medication for nausea and vomiting that if she did not take would mean that she would be vomiting all the time and never able to keep food down. Her insurance only covers a small percentage of the cost.

    They paid for a motorized wheelchair for her but will not pay for a lift ramp for the family truck so that she can go out when she feels up to it, which is not often, and use the chair.

    If you go to my blog you will see my posts about her over the past couple of years and this journey she is on. That we are on together as sisters. There is a picture of us together in the August blog postings which is the link I gave you. She is the one with the sunglasses on.

    I so want her to be well and I can not control what her tumor does, or how much she sleeps or the weight she loses or the pain she has.

    What I can do is support you on your trip to CIGNA and to Washington and I have done that to the best of my ability. In addition to making a small contribution I have made it a point to write pieces on my blog linking to your story, to MoveOn.Org, and signed whatever petitions MoveOn.Org has sent my way in support of you and in support of the health and wellness coverage that we all deserve.

    I have been in health and wellness for almost 30 years and it has to this point been a system that keeps operating on a foundation that is cracked and crumbling. You can’t keep using the same tools to fix the problem when it is obvious they are not working.

    It feels like my role now is to as Gandhi said, “Be the change I desire to see”. So I am advocating and supporting a grassroots movement in wellness and wellcare. Preventative care that helps us not to be sick in the first place, and when there is dis-ease, grassroots community support to create healing.

    I really feel that wellness,healing,and health care for our country is going to come from the ground up. Trickle up, verses trickle down. You are one of those grassroots people as is MoveOn.org making the trickle go up.

    I am doing my part in my community as well as writing on my blog to tell my sisters story and to call to action a change, as well as a pay it forward movement. I am working on a book about our journey (my sister and I).

    This change we desire to see, it’s going to be a we the people movement and I thank you for being one of the WE.

    My deepest wish for you is to have your needs meet and to be well.

    I thank you for taking this trip. In doing so you are doing it not only for yourself. You are doing it for my sister and all of the brothers and sisters and moms and dads and aunts and uncles and children and friends who are living this in one way or another. I saw our family as part of the WE at the rally in Minneapolis when President Obama came last month to the Target Center. My daughters and I went and were early enough to get seats. People want this coverage. We shouted, we said YES WE CAN, we supported in the best ways we know how.

    As you make your way to Pennsylvania and Washington please know that the steps that you take and the miles that you cover are touching me and my sister and I am sure many millions more people.

    You are not alone. If you were coming by way of Wisconsin and near us I can guarantee you would have a place to stay and welcoming arms and hugs. Consider yourself hugged and welcome none the less and know that I’ll be sending you healing thoughts for the best possible outcome.

    I am going to place a link to your blog on my blog so people can find you from there as well.

    I also thank you MoveOn.org for doing this. You rock!!!

    Heartfully,

    Nellie

    Nellie Moore
    WyseWomen LLC

  2. Sarah
    October 9, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    Dawn — you’re amazing! On behalf of all Americans please accept a heartfel thank-you for taking on the health insurance companies. May you continue to be strong. May your voice be heard throughout the land. May positive change take place.

    Best wishes from California!
    ~SRK

  3. Mae Chamberlain
    October 10, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    Dawn & fellow travelers –

    Bless you all for making this pilgrimage for the sake of all US citizens. You are a group of the many Citizen Heroes that go unheralded who are, in their minds, “just doing what’s right and needs to be done.”

    There are so many people with health horror stories. I lost my husband to cancer two years ago. Unfortunately, by the time it was diagnosed, it was really too late to accomplish much. But, when in the denial stage, going home to hospice is not an option, especially when you are only 56 years old. Had I not been a very demanding advocate, he would not have gotten the care necessary to get him from the Univ. of Ark. back to SC so that his last days could be spent surrounded by friends and family.

    I have so many friends and family who have been affected by the health care business that I can only surmise that the number rises exponentially as each person in the US is considered.

    Thank you so much for doing this. My thoughts and prayers will be with you. Please let all of those WITH whom you speak that there are many more of us FOR whom you speak. God is with you.

    Mae Chamberlain

    P.S. I am currently unemployed and without insurance. But, I will try to figure a way to send you what financial support I can.

  4. margariat donnelly
    October 11, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    10/11 Dear Dawn–You are a fighter–thank you for taking on CIGNA and taking this trip to confront our congress and CIGNA. I wish you safe travels and good care of your self during this trip. You deserve a medal. I hope you will tell our representatives that they don’t understand the needs of the public they represent because they are inured against the experiences you and others receive at the hands of private insurance companies. Congress has a cadillac health insurance program we pay for them and their families for life with our tax dollars. They don’t know what it is like to have to pay for health insurance and then be denied coverage or care for certain types of diseases.

    I just went through a year of breast cancer treatments–but I was covered because I am over 65 and Medicare and my supplement did not deny me any care. I was very lucky. A close friend who had the same diagnosis was treated differently because she had private insurance (which ran out just as her treatment ended because she lost her job)–she was never offered or given an expensive medication that helps with controlling side effects from chemo because her doctors knew her insurance wouldn’t cover it since it is so expensive. I could not believe it! She was 3 months ahead of me with treatments and never heard about the medicine until I told her–too late for her–she just had to suffer through the side effects. That is the criminality of the medical system controlled by private insurance companies.

    You are a heroine to take them on when you are sick–thank you–

    Margarita Donnelly
    Corvallis, OR

  5. Gail Benton
    October 12, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    Thank you Dawn for being a champion for all of us. You are brave and courageous. I applaud you for being part of a revolutionary movement of taking charge of your life and being a voice for WE THE PEOPLE. Blessings and love are being sent your way.

  6. LESLIE HARRIS
    October 12, 2009 at 7:04 am #

    I LESLIE H HARRIS Stand with Dawn 100%. I to know too well about insurance companies I has a stroke in 2006. I am praying for you and i totally support ypu!

    Leslie

  7. Marcie
    October 12, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Love your spirit and desire to make life better for all, not just yourself. You are what is the true definition of Warrior.
    Thank You and keep moving forward.

  8. Cheryl
    October 12, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    Thanks Dawn for al you are doing! It takes courage and heart to stand up for change. You are an inspiration to us all. I will forever stand beside you!

    Thanks again –

  9. Linda Thomas
    October 12, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    Dawn,
    I felt truly blessed to meet you and your mother at the capitol steps in Atlanta last week. Your words are an inspiration to anyone fighting illness, who also has to battle the insurance companies to get what they paid for.
    I met a woman as I left that day who offered some suggestions I said I would pass on to you. This isn’t a stategy to fight CIGNA, but a way to be able to continue the fight for all of us.
    She suggested finding out if the drug company can get you a discount on your pain meds that CIGNA raised the co-pay on. She also wondered if any of these doctors or hospitals would consider donating their time and facility to treat you. If any of these could happen, they could give you the strength to continue speaking our for all of us on health care reform.
    Thank you (and your mother) for bringing this battle directly to Congress and CIGNA. May your words melt hearts that have been cold on this issue.
    Linda Thomas
    Marietta, GA.

  10. Eugene Blank
    October 12, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    Dear Dawn, You have my deep admiration.I am 85 years old, a retired physician since 1991, a child of the Great Depression, a US Marine paratrooper in World War 2. You remind me of my mother, who raised me by herself, who was a Communist, and I am too. She had little to give. She gave me, her only child, a perfect childhood. Fight the bastards.

  11. Robynn Davis
    October 13, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    Dawn,
    Thank you on behalf of all Americans for the journey you are making. You are representing people like my 23 year old son who works part-time and attends college part-time. He, like so many other Americans, does not have insurance. I pray every night that he will stay healthy until he graduates and is able to get a job with insurance benefits. You also represent my 13 year old son who experiences autism. We are lucky to live in a state which allows a medicaid wavier for children with autism, many states do not. My son requires approximately $25,000 a year in therapy, last year CIGNA covered $2,000 of that amount. If it were not for medicaid we would not be able to afford the therapy my son so desperately needs. When I think of the tens of thousands of children with autism who are not insured, or who are denied treatment by their insurance companies it breaks my heart.

    Thank you for fighting the good fight against the giant! You are an amazing person and I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Warmly,
    Robynn Davis

  12. Lisa Reese
    October 14, 2009 at 4:34 am #

    Simply amazing….I am dumbfounded that we live in what people claim is a “great country”. but our own health care providers, fueled by millions of dollars in premiums, claim they cannot provide. It’s truly sad and pathetic that billions of dollars have gone to the war in Iraq when it was needed here at home for the people that have fought and worked and well deserve it. I applaud and appreciate Dawn, her courage is astounding and know that the work she is doing today will benefit her and hopefully many others. Hawaii supports you and welcomes you if our state is on your journey.

  13. Jerry Sodemann
    October 14, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    Dawn, first of all, I’d like to thank you for caring about people other than yourself during the battle you have faced. You are a blessing to so many people! It seems that this country has turned into nothing but greed. I’m 61 years old, and when I was growing up people cared about other people. Today it seems that more and more people only care about themselves. More and more people only care about the almighty dollar, and they don’t care who they have to walk over so they can get it.

    I shouldn’t say all people in this country are greedy, I know that the majorty of us are not. We just sit there with our mouths shut and take whatever big business throws at us and are thankful for the crumbs we get. But the greedy people are the ones with the loudest voices, and they keep screaming how unfair a public health system would be. Why are they doing this? Because of greed and only caring about themselves. Too many of us figure that we are at the bottom of the totem pole and are helpless. But, remember it’s the bottom of the totem pole that holds up the rest of the pole.

    May God bless you, and my God dispatch a band of Angels to help you during your fight. Again Dawn, thank you for fighting for those of us that are just happy with crumbs.

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