“The Affordable Care Act saved my life.”
That is the message delivered by #SAVEACA activist Julie Negrin as she travels throughout Washington state and the Pacific Northwest describing the effects of “Obamacare” on the macro and the micro level.
But her dispatches and proclamations are meant to move listeners beyond the emotion of empathy toward this young woman who has had to battle cancers to a place of understanding of the precipice our nation is on as we decide who lives and who dies.
Negrin will be the keynote speaker at the kick-off of a “Health Care Insurance Sign-up” to be held in Eastsound this week. She presents her story at the Orcas Fire Hall, Wednesday night, Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Free health insurance assistance will be provided all day Thursday, Dec. 14 at the UW Medicine Orcas Island Clinic, 7 Deye Lane, Eastsound. Appointments are recommended at (360)788-6526. Assistance in Spanish anguage is also provided for free.
Negrin’s own story sparks her passionate defense of the ACA.
After a diagnosis of cancer in 2011, she was shocked to learn three more separate cancers appeared. A treatment was offered her: surgery. So, in 2014 Negrin had her colon, ovaries, uterus, appendix removed. “And,” she explained, “they took out lymph nodes, arteries, and ligaments … That’s a lot.”
She is not one for hyperbole; she’s prone to stick to facts.
The facts are that she could not afford, on her own, the continuing medical management required to stay alive: thousands of dollars a month. So, now that Congress and the President persist in whittling away public health care protections and benefits under the ACA, she has made herself the visible emblem of those who are on the cusp of survival.
Negrin is a certified nutritionist and cooking instructor and has been teaching adults and children how to cook for nearly decade. She spent five years as the Director of Culinary Arts at the JCC in Manhattan where she developed recipes and curricula specifically for children. She has appeared on Sesame Street, CBS Nightly News with Katie Couric, and the Today Show with Al Roker.
“I’ve worked in school and low-income environments,” Negrin told Dame Magazine earlier this year. “I’ve used my expertise to help improve the health of people. My impact has been far-reaching. To have my government say that I don’t deserve to live and that it’s my personal responsibility to handle whatever I face now without their help is pretty frustrating when I literally devoted my entire career and life to helping other people stay as healthy as they can.”
At 46 this Mercer Island resident is still doing that through her outreach to communities. Even though she needs to take 15 to 20 pills a day, and make six to eight trips to the doctor each week.
The Affordable Care Act has made her treatments affordable and she is emphatic about letting everyone know that she represents those many millions in our country who deal with similar situations. “I feel re-energized, buoyed, proud, and determined,” Negrin asserted, “to do my part to keep myself and millions of others covered by health insurance. Without it, I do not stand a chance.”
More than 350,000 people in Washington state are cancer survivors, according to the American Cancer Society. The Washington Medicaid Expansion, known as Apple Care, helps more than 750,000 enrollees.
“I’d like to live to 50.”
Free health care sign-up assistance is made possible through the support of Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement, UW Medicine Orcas Island Clinic, Rock Island Communications, Our Revolution of San Juan County.
Negrin is on Facebook and Twitter and has a website, www.julienegrin.com.