HENNING: An open letter to Sens. Perdue and Isakson on healthcare

Jill Henning

Dear Senator Isakson and Senator Perdue,

I have been cancer free for three years. I was diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer called Triple Negative Breast Cancer. It has a high reoccurrence rate, about two-thirds of the patients with TNBC end up with the cancer returning and when it comes back it comes back in places you wouldn’t want it to return like your bones, brain, and major organs. Of those who have a reoccurrences about 50 percdent of those do not survive. So for three years l have lived with this threat. Every cough, headache and issue has made me question if it has returned.

But that fear has been nothing compared to my fear of what this healthcare bill could do to my family. I am a parent of two daughters. My oldest is a junior at UGA studying International Affairs for her undergraduate and at the same time she is getting her master’s in Public Policy. Her name is Sarah Henning and beyond her class work, she also volunteers and holds a position on the Executive Board of UGA’s Relay for Life because she wants to make sure no family has to go through what hers has.

My younger daughter, Ashleigh is a rising freshman at Grayson High School and she is a straight A student who enters high school already with credits for Spanish, science, math and P.E. She is running cross country and serving on GHS’s Student Council. She loves to dance and be like any other teenager.

How will this healthcare bill effect them? Counting my cancer diagnoses, I have 11 preexisting conditions, other than my cancer diagnoses I am not currently under any doctor’s care for the other 10. But if my cancer were to return I know I couldn’t afford to be treated. Fifty percent of patients with a reoccurrence don’t survive — but that means that 50 percent do. But what if I can’t afford my treatment. What if I have to lose my home, my retirement, my children’s educational funds to afford treatment?

I could survive treatment only to ruin their lives? What happens then? Did I survive cancer only to be told by my government that my life isn’t worthy? How much will my treatments be if I remain healthy? Do I skip routine doctor visits because the co-pays are more than I can afford?

I’m a pastor in Lilburn. I didn’t choose that field because I knew it would one that would give me a huge nest egg to fall back on. We had an emergency fund and my emergency fund was cleaned out between my two years of cancer treatments. We are just now starting to build that back.

Please vote no to this healthcare bill. Please consider all those who live in fear of this disease. Please make sure there are safeguards in whatever legislation is passed so that anyone facing a chronic disease can get treatment and can afford to get coverage. Please consider my story and my family’s story.

Sincerely,

Rev. Jill Henning

Jill Henning, the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lilburn since 1995, is a triple negative breast cancer survivor. She is married to Pastor Matt Henning of Community of Grace Lutheran Church in Grayson and had two daughters. She also serves as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network where she advocates for other cancer survivors.