Wynn W

Wynn W., WI

I’m a three-time cancer survivor. It all started in my lungs. My lungs kept collapsing, and the first time was in 2005. I had no insurance at the time and went to the hospital. They didn’t do an MRI or any testing beyond an X-ray. The X-ray showed that the right side had collapsed. They kept me and put a tube through my body for seven days to get the lung back up. I was told the cause could be stress or other things.

The doctor never said that I had cancer in my lung with COPD from smoking cigarettes. At that time, I had stopped smoking cigarettes for years. Years later, with no real answers from that first hospital stay, in 2018, my lungs collapsed again.

This time, I had better insurance, and I went to the hospital and was admitted into the hospital and had MRI/ XRAYs/ CT scan done. They realized that back in 2005, my lungs collapsed also. They told me that my collapsed lung was due to lung cancer with COPD and got me ready for surgery.

I had another surgery to remove the upper lobe of the lung where the adenocarcinoma was in March 2019. I didn’t want to go through the chemo, I went with the surgery instead. Well, the cancer moved to my brain in Sept 2020, so I had brain surgery to remove the cancer. I’m still under the doctor’s care to monitor my lungs and brain. I have not smoked since 2000.

It’s 2024, and all people that have smoked and are still smokers need to get screened for COPD, lung cancer, and emphysema which all comes with smoking. Even if you have stopped smoking, you still should be checked out. But a significant barrier for many people is insurance and where you go for the care needed.

I feel like in 2005, if I were properly cared for and checked, all of my subsequent experience with my cancer growing would not have been. But that’s how it goes. In the African American community, people may not have the best insurance, and proper healthcare is needed no matter who you are. The air quality has been bad lately in Milwaukee, and I must have an air purifier in my home and during the summer months due to poor outside air.

Having cancer has obviously affected my health, but also has impacted my life financially because I have not able to work full time. I have been on disability and Medicaid, and at 62 now I can have Medicare, but I am worried they will take away my Medicaid. I need that, too, to offset medical and medication bills. It’s so unreal how much lung cancer can impact you. I work a little bit in the healthcare industry – mostly to get out of the house a couple of days a week – and it is so hard to see people not getting the care they need.

I’m here because I know how important it is to access good health care, as well as for our government to prioritize funding for cancer research. Increasing the funding for the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health will help people like me get better cancer outcomes.

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