Dear Senator McSally: Healthcare is a Human Right

The Democratic National Convention has been interesting, to say the least. I have enjoyed watching the wonders of technology to accommodate social distancing. My favorite part of the convention, though, was the speeches from Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris. Strong women with strong voices.

In contrast, I have been very disappointed Senator Martha McSally, one of Arizona’s strong female voices in Congresses. Today I sent her a letter to let her know why I am disappointed in her. This is what I wrote.

Dear Senator McSally,

My name is Serena Freewomyn. I live in Tucson, and I have lived in Arizona for almost all of my life. My stepfather was a jet mechanic for the Airforce. My grandfather was a company clerk for the Army, and his brother served in the Marines. My great-grandfather was an engineer for the Navy. My husband’s grandfather was also an engineer for the Navy, and his brother-in-law served two tours in Iraq for the Army. Needless to say, I have pride for everyone who serves the United States, including you.

I feel proud of your fight to have women’s service in the US military held to the same recognition as men’s service. You took leadership to have bipartisan support for the Women’s Memorial. You demanded that women should be buried in Arlington Cemetery. You even took Donald Rumsfeld to the Supreme Court of the United States to allow women to fly into combat. You have shown bravery in the face of sexism. And I admire you.

I do not admire, however, you standing beside Donald Trump and allowing him and his cronies in Congress to restrict access to universal healthcare. Even before the COVID epidemic, you supported rescinding the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare.”) I am a thirty-nine year old woman who has spent the last decade scheduling her life around chemotherapy, radiation, speech therapy, physical therapy, and naturopathy treatments.

I was diagnosed with a stage-3 brain tumor in February of 2012, just as Obamacare went into effect. I am very Blessed that an anonymous federal employee waited with me while she passed my application up the food chain. I was approved for the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan the day before I went in for my next MRI. I was (and still am) able to get chemotherapy and radiation.

The Affordable Care Act was up for repeal in the summer of 2017. Senator John McCain had just announced that he had been diagnosed with the same type of tumor I had. I wrote to him asking him to vote in favor of the ACA. I explained my story to him and told him that I admired his service to this country, both as a senator, and as a service member who was a POW during the Vietnam War. I told him that he had the privilege of getting medical treatment, both as a member of Congress, as well as having VA hospital access. I don’t know if my letter had any influence on his decision, but he did vote to keep the ACA in place.

I am alive today because of Obamacare. I am alive today because of Senator McCain’s vote.

This is an election season, and so political ads are expected. Captain Mark McSally’s campaign has a positive tone. Your political ads have been virulent. Both or you served in the military. Both of you have accomplished amazing things for our national. However, I cannot support a candidate who doesn’t respect the basic human right of access to healthcare. Please remember that you were NOT elected to the senate. You inherited that position. If you expect to win the 2020 election, you need to appeal to all of the constituents in Arizona, not just the Trump supporters.
Thank you again for your service. Women value strong female voices in leadership positions. I hope you will take this into consideration.

All of the DNC speakers this week highlighted multiple issues in their speeches. Healthcare is my number one issue. If a candidate doesn’t support it, I can’t support them. Period. I hope equal access matters to you, too.


Face Masks are Fashionable

It’s official, y’all. Vogue has declared that face masks are not only necessary; they’re the latest fashion accessory. So have Marie Claire and Glamour. DIY online shops have been making/sharing masks since March 2020. To keep up with the trend, fashion designers, such as Gucci and Pradda, are gearing up to introduce face masks fashionable, and not just functional.

Believe it or not, this feminist LOVES fashion! When I got diagnosed with cancer in 2012, I didn’t lament losing my hair. I already had a large hat collection, and I was eager to widen my accessory options to include scarves. Why wouldn’t I go all out for face masks?

I am a longtime Project Runway enthusiast, and I hope Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum have designers from Making the Cut are encouraged to make COVID prevention fashionable. We’ll see when the fall lines hit the runway if high end designers take face masks to the next level.


Dear Senator McCain

Senator John McCain returned to the Senate floor today, after spending just five days in recovery from surgery to remove a brain tumor. Senator McCain’s office released a confirmation of his diagnosis on July 19th. He has a glioblastoma, one of the most difficult types of brain tumors. I applaud McCain’s tenacity, but I am very disappointed by his stance on the Affordable Care Act. This is my response.

Dear Senator McCain,

Congratulations on heading back to the Senate floor. I admire your tenacity.

I am reaching out to you as a fellow brain cancer warrior. I was diagnosed with stage 3 Astrocytoma five years ago. I was self-employed, and my partner was in graduate school when I received my diagnosis. We did not have health insurance. However, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect in the Spring of 2012, and I was fortunate enough to get insurance coverage through the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). I paid for my policy, deductibles, and co-pays, just as anyone else does. My partner dropped out of grad school so he could find a stable job that provided health insurance. Thanks to the PCIP requirements, I was able to obtain stable health insurance when the PCIP expired.

I have been on chemo for five years. I have had three separate different sets of radiation. I have had bi-monthly MRI’s for the past five years. I have utilized speech therapy and physical therapy. If the ACA is repealed, I (as well as every other cancer patient in the United States) could be at risk losing health care insurance. That is unconscionable.

Please vote no for the repeal of the ACA. Healthcare is a basic human right. You owe it to yourself, your constituents, and all your fellow cancer warriors to stand up and speak out.

I look forward to your support and send you positive, healing energy.

Serena Freewomyn

Dealing with cancer is hard work. I am blessed to have the support of my family and friends. However, I have wracked up over $300,000 of debt ($60,000 was from one visit to the ER) because of cancer. Please contact your Congressional representatives and urge them to keep healthcare coverage available for everyone, not just the one percent. We can’t say that the US is the greatest country in the world if we don’t have equitable access to healthcare.


Women as Healers: An Interview with Michele Smith

Michele Smith incorporates her fun sense of humor to the acupuncture table.

Michele brings her fun sense of humor to the acupuncture table.

Michele Smith is a licensed acupuncture therapist who practices in Tucson, Arizona. Michele’s clinic is called The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture. Her bright personality and interest in her patients helps set a peaceful tone for a healing environment at the clinic. Many people are afraid to get poked, but Michele’s positive energy helps ease that worry.

Michele has been my acupuncturist since 2011. In addition to seeing Michele for acupuncture myself, I volunteer at The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture one day a week. I enjoy working with her, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about her work.

1. What motivated you to become an acupuncture therapist?

I was motivated to become an acupuncturist because my previous career in the music industry was becoming obsolete and I wanted my next career to be in something that would help people, both physically and mentally. While music is also healing, the corporate world that the music industry had become was not, and is not, healing. My last job in the music industry was at a music venue which was at a great locally owned venue owned and operated by a really nice man, but not the kind of work I could see myself doing ten or so years down the line as I got older. My first thought was to study homeopathy, but it is illegal in the state of Georgia, where I am from, so I decided to study acupuncture with the thought that down the line I could always add homeopathy if I still desired.

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