“I’m not in med school right now literally because I had to pay for chemo,” Sam Cartwright said.
At first glance you’d never think Samantha, who goes by Sam, could have had cancer. An athletic suburban Jersey girl with a vibrant smile was beating the odds. “I was in remission about two weeks before arriving at Susquehanna University,” Cartwright said. “I spent the last two years of my college career fighting for my life.”
Cartwright a biology,psychology major, with a minor in health care, graduated magna cum laude from Susquehanna University. She was first diagnosed as a child with Lymphoma. Lymphoma a type of blood cancer that resonates in the lymph-nodes and affects the white blood cells that form the immune system.
Cartwright said, “When I was like 12 was when I was first diagnosed in general. I didn’t have insurance through my parents or anything, so obviously that situation was weird.” Sam’s parents didn’t financially or emotionally support her during both of her diagnoses but her close family, friends and aunt helped pay for her childhood treatments.
“As soon as I got to S.U., I went to Geisinger Medical and had to get monthly blood work set up. Then a few months into being at school I started working at Friendly’s. I was working regularly enough that I could get their part-time person insurance. It didn’t really cover a whole lot of stuff, but it did help out a little bit… I think it was through Starbridge,” Cartwright said.
The second diagnose came as a shock. After a college basketball practice Cartwright was rushed to the hospital with a severe headache. During the spinal tap doctors diagnosed her with meningitis and also found abnormal cells encoded with horrible results. The cancer was back.
“So at that point I knew we needed to get it assessed and see how far it progressed. Again, I only have that partial insurance,” Cartwright explained. “The way it works is you have a certain amount taken out and you pay the first $500 dollars for procedures than the rest is covered by the insurance up to a certain amount depending.”
Look at your wallet and imagine having to dump everything out in-order to pay for your life. That is what coming up with $500 as a full-time student with a part-time job was for Sam.
Through the university, she did get student covered insurance but that would only cover a fraction of the expenses needed to treat cancer.
Sam said, “The problem with most insurances is that is probably very good for the normal human; with the average illness you come across in a normal human being. As you can see I am far from normal.”
After two rounds of chemo, one round of radiation, a razor to the head and few tears in between, the cancer cells were termed in remission.
Cartwright said, “The last round of chemo, they did a test and there wasn’t any more irregular cells growing. So there wasn’t any live cancer, but at this point all of my blood cells and immune system were depleted, which is a side effect of chemotherapy.”
Remission was only one hurdle in the 200-meter race. By this time in the race graduation had come and gone, Cartwright had moved to Philadelphia to work at Finish Line as a assistant manager and was finally able to apply for better insurance options.
Cartwright said, “At Finish Line I have premium health care, but there is all types of exceptions and insurance companies don’t anticipate people needing chemo.” So they don’t budget to cover it.
Cartwright had mounting bills from treatment and still needed more treatment to repair her battered immune system. This meant constant blood transfusions to protect herself from illness, prescription medicine, anything that could help snap her immune system into shape.
1,095 days later and Cartwright is still cancer free and Obamacare is now the debate on Capitol Hill and at colleges. Cartwright, like many students, had parents who did not have access to health insurance. Most students make due without it by drinking their orange juice and exercising, but for situations like Cartwright’s, what can you do? Your back is against the wall as you weigh all the options on how to fund the fight for your life.
Cartwright admits, “If I had to have insurance when I was younger it would have lessened the blow for when I was finally diagnosed.” Obamacare could carry the burden of many individuals and families who don’t have the means to fund their health care. Especially with the government option of public aid to help individuals like Sam, it fills the gaps on their personal health care.
This is not to say that Cartwright completely agrees with Obamacare. Like many citizens she admits she doesn’t know enough of the law to make a fully informed decision.
“I can see that people don’t want to be forced to do things by the government. I get it. It makes sense,” Cartwright said. “But I think people overlook a lot of things and if you have never been in a situation where you ever need it or have ever been around someone who needs it, I understand why you’d never want to pay money for something you’d never use. But what happens when you do need it? Classic America, they never consider what may happen.”
At this very moment Cartwright says, “I should be attending medical school. I was accepted to University of Penn, I could almost be a doctor by now but I don’t have the money because I had to pay thousands of dollars for something that I didn’t have coverage for even though I had insurance.”