I have lived a lot of life, most of it on the go, and always an adventure. Challenging myself and pushing limits. From 25 to 35, I worked hard and lived with that sense of freedom, full of fun and exploration, believing every year would only get better and better. In that decade, I took some chances – moved to three different cities where I didn’t know anyone, and I took jobs I wasn’t sure about. I was always confident things would work out, or at least I could figure it out how to make it work.
I was lucky. Things did work, and my life in that time was wonderful. I deepened friendships and made even more great friends, completed graduate degrees, traveled the world, saw my nephews born and grow, helped elect a Senator and then a President, lived my dream of improving policies to help others, and even fell in love with the most incredible woman. I remember thinking, here I was in my mid-30s truly living the ultimate adventure, living life to the fullest every day – but also knowing the best years of my life were still in front of me. What I didn’t know during those 10 years was how uncertain my future really was, and how much control I was about to lose.
Two months after my wife said yes to being my adventure partner for life, I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. In the same decade I spent building my life, the cancer had been growing, and silently threatening to tear it down. Right at the dawn of my future. Literally, the worst news, at the worst time. Like any good sports fan, I turned to statistics to understand the odds. Only the numbers were no help. For the stage and type of cancer I have, my chances of seeing my 40th birthday were only about 10 percent.
Fortunately I had been paying out of my paycheck for health insurance through my employer. I’d never really given the choice of buying health coverage much thought. I never thought that one day the small choice to get covered would be one of the most important things to keep me alive. Insurance helped me do two things that greatly improved my chances – it helped me get diagnosed, and it helped me begin my treatment quickly.