Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No Patient Left Behind

So I don’t usually cry when I talk to reporters... I try really hard to keep my composure because I know if you cry in front of a camera, it doesn’t matter how red my nose gets, or how much my mascara smears, it doesn’t matter if the words that are coming out of my mouth even make sense, if I’m crying, it’ll make the cut. I can spurt out fabulous quotes, along with mind-blowing insight, but none of that will be in the news clip, if the alternative is a candid shot of the crying mother.

I nervously watched Kendra Nichols’coverage of the committee vote yesterday, hoping that I didn’t come across as too much of a flake. And then there it was, the teary eyed, blubbering mom, pleading with anyone who would listen, “Help them all.” I was embarrassed, of course, and had no intention of sharing the clip, except with a few of my fellow Campaign for Compassion team members, although I knew darn well, Les Stark, our resident media hunter would find it and share it by the end of the night.

Not many people know this about me, I’d like to think I hide it well, but I get nervous all the time. Sometimes I feel as if I’m choking on my own self-doubt. I can waste hours of my time stewing over something stupid that I said or did, obsessing over what I should have said. Naturally, that’s what I did for the remainder of last evening. But I woke up this morning with the intense realization that each tear I shed over the thought of my fellow man suffering, is a tear shed for very good reason. There is no shame in being completely overcome with emotion at the thought of an entire community of my friends, my fellow advocates, my kindred spirits, being denied compassionate use of cannabis because their disease is excluded from SB3. And yes, I know the board can add more conditions, but in that moment of shear terror when I imagine them continuing to suffer, on the verge of slitting their own wrists, just to finally be free of their pain, I am not comforted by that possibility.

I think now that what overwhelms me almost as much as the thought of the vast amount of needless suffering in our state, is the fact that there is no one representing these people. When our elected officials take office, they also take an oath to uphold the state constitution. Article 1 of this constitution states,

“All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.”

This likely means that each district that elects their representative is perhaps under the assumption that said representative vows to serve each one of them, whether they are a small child with intractable epilepsy, or an adult with cancer, a veteran with PTSD, or a middle aged man with chronic, and debilitating pain, a wife stricken with neuropathy due to DIabetes. Every man, woman, and child residing in the Commonwealth is meant to have the same rights, meant to have the opportunity to enjoy and defend their life, destined to pursue happiness.

So I must ask. Why on earth are we allowing our elected leaders to determine which of the people that elected them get access to compassionate use, and which don’t? Just let that sink in...

After it sinks in, you may feel the urge to channel your frustration into something meaningful. I assure you, it is not too late to get involved. If my loved one, or myself were being deliberately excluded from a life saving program, wild horses couldn’t drag me away from the fight to change the outcome.

Please go to to find your legislator. Call them, write them, visit them. Urge your elected officials to help them all!

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