Here’s What One Cancer Survivor Wants You To Know About Obamacare

“If we don’t protect Americans like me, Americans like me will die.”

1. Mere hours after the Senate began moving to repeal the Affordable Care Act earlier this week, Xeni Jardin, who’s had breast cancer since 2011, shared a personal story about what the health care law means to her.

Xeni Jardin

Jardin, a tech journalist in Los Angeles, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41 — nearly a decade earlier than most people begin getting mammograms.

2. “May each one of these men experience the anxiety that I as a cancer patient feel right now, knowing I’ll die if care becomes unavailable,” Jardin wrote in a Twitter thread on Thursday that soon went viral.

3. Jardin shared her story of getting diagnosed just a short time after leaving an abusive relationship and buying her own insurance:

“When you receive a cancer diagnosis, it’s like a tsunami hitting your life,” Jardin told BuzzFeed News. “It shakes up everything — your relationships with family and significant others, your ability to earn money…for many of us it makes us unable to work for a while or forever.”

“It shakes up your sense of self and what you believe in,” she said. “I was a vegan who did yoga and rode her bike seven days a week. I didn’t believe it was possible for me to get cancer.”

6. One day, before a round of chemo, Jardin said a nurse pulled her aside. Jardin said she was told her insurance company had opened up a fraud investigation against her, because they thought her cancer was a preexisting condition.

Xeni Jardin

During one of the dozens of times I went in for chemotherapy, very sweet woman from billing pulled me aside right before they put in the IV

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

they pulled me aside from the nurses, my head was already bald. Do you know what it's like to anticipate chemotherapy in your body?

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

Your insurance company has opened a fraud investigation because they believe you had cancer as a pre-existing condition, she said.

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

Jardin told BuzzFeed News she was “so upset at that moment.”

“There’s just so much we have to do to find the will to just show up…and be willing to receive the treatment,” she said.

10. “To have somebody say something like that, it’s basically saying the entity that stands between you and not getting the lifesaving treatment you need thinks you’re a criminal,” she said.

I went in to cancer clinic bracing myself for medicine that would maybe save my life. An insurance company wanted to shut it down for fraud

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

Jardin said the debacle was “shameful,” but was still “the least of [her] worries at that moment.”

“I didn’t know yet whether I was going to live,” she said.

11. Jardin said the clinic did not actually believe she’d committed fraud, and with their help the insurance company eventually decided not to pursue the case.

Eventually I was cleared. I got my treatment, I lived, I continue to get treatment so that I will continue to live. Thanks Obama

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

12. But medical bills and the debts attached to them have become an intense source of stress in her and her family’s lives, she said.

Despite having coverage, I will be paying off my cancer bills for long time. Hope I live so long! Treatment is ongoing. Grateful for it.

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

“A bunch of my medical debts ended up going to credit agencies who then were calling my mom, tracking down relatives, and doing Google searches,” she said.

13. Through her battles with “insurance company greed,” Jardin said she’s felt enormously grateful for Obamacare.

ACA has been only thing standing between me and insurance company greed. I only have enough in me to fight cancer, not insurance companies.

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

My insurance co fought to deny me life-saving chemotherapy because they thought I had a preexisting condition. I lived because they couldn't

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

“Had the Affordable Care Act not been passed, then for the past five years, I would have lived with the additional fear that at any moment my insurance could be taken from me and I could be in the situation of having zero coverage at all,” she said.

15. Her story is one she’s heard time and time again from other cancer patients, Jardin said, adding she’s “really, really worried” about what the repeal of Obamacare would mean for them.

If we don't protect Americans like me, Americans like me will die

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

I am missing a breast, a uterus, 19 lymph nodes, a latissimus dorsi. But I'm alive, and fittin' to haunt these fuckers good while I'm alive

— Xeni Jardin (@xeni)

“Making it harder for us to access the care we need opens up the door for exploitation,” she said. “Like unhygienic activity, and people telling you you can cure cancer with cannabis oil or kale juice or whatever.”

“There’s enough of that out there, and when people get desperate and can’t get the real thing, they’ll grab at whatever they can,” she said.

17. Jardin’s story was widely shared on Twitter, with many people sharing their similar experiences.

Me too, Xeni. Not cancer but neuro. Treatments to keep me functioning are $7500 every 3 wks. Without help I'm dead.… https://t.co/JXNrIXv9Ss

— sara mcconnell (@smc752)

@xeni My husband has Prostate Cancer that requires expensive treatment to prevent it from spreading. Repeal will kill him

— Puppy mom (@PWelu)

I too am missing breast (no reconstruction,lost insur b4 cld do it), 17 lymph nodes, 2 ovaries. I too am alive to f… https://t.co/n18Z0aRYlX

— Tina Winsett (@tmwinsett)

@xeni ACA saved my mom after her heart attack. We are so scared about losing her healthcare she desperately needs now. 😞

— Hend Amry (@LibyaLiberty)

21. And countless others are sharing stories of how the Affordable Care Act has saved their lives.

I didn't have insurance from age 18-27 (2000-2009). I almost died at 23 from an appendix complication. #SaveACA https://t.co/FDS5Kjdj2i

— Rhea Butcher (@RheaButcher)

Cancer would be growing in my body right now if it weren't for the preventative care made available by ACA. I would have no idea. #SaveACA

— Grey (@_GreyWhite)

I'm HIV Positive & if we return to no protection for pre-existing conditions, I'm pretty much fucked. #SaveACA https://t.co/hDTVO2knh5

— seanologues (@seanpaulmahoney)

I have a chronic disease. #SaveACA means I can be self-employed with coverage and schedule work around my illness.… https://t.co/urm1l6xDcm

— Jen ish (@ThatJenMoseley)

If I didn't have employer based insurance, I would be desperate right now. I have a pre existing condition & would be uninsurable. #SAVEACA

— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady)

26. President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican Congress have committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act, saying premiums have risen under the law.

Trump has said he wants to maintain popular features of the law, such as protective measures for people with preexisting conditions, but neither he nor the Republican Party have outlined how an alternative law might do that while eliminating elements they dislike, such as mandates and subsidies.

Jardin said she fears repealing the law altogether will lead to deaths.

27. “The complete lack of even the most basic safety net that the Affordable Care Act provides, it will lead to deaths, because some people will get delayed treatment, and some people won’t get any treatment at all,” Jardin said.

Xeni Jardin

“I’m deeply, deeply worried about where we go from here,” she said. “Cancer is already barbaric enough. We don’t need to go backwards.”

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Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Julia Reinstein at julia.reinstein@buzzfeed.com.
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