The “big C”

I was at a gathering the other evening talking with a friend of one of my good friends.  She knew nothing of my life experience living with cancer and so I found the conversation particularly intriguing.  She is young, mid-forties, and healthy and vibrant with two children, a daughter in college and son about 13.  We were talking about her autistic son and how health insurance does not cover many of the recommended traditional treatments, for example speech therapy, because they are viewed as either experimental or not medically necessary.  She and her husband own their own business, a winery, and the cost for the family’s health insurance is extremely high given their son’s autism.  They are weighing continuing with their health insurance or stopping and saving the monthly premium.  Given how little insurance covers their son’s treatments, they are leaning toward the latter.  It was apparent the topic was distressing her.  When I asked her why she keeps the insurance she leaned in and whispered,  “in case one of us gets the big C.”  As she stood there, pristine in her composure, wearing a beautiful maxi dress, her long blond hair draped down the side of her shoulders, I thought to myself,  “Oh, the big C.”

The words repeated in my head slowly becoming a mantra taking hold and touching on every nerve in my body.  I felt myself shifting my weight, moving to cross my arms, but then stopped as an old saying came to mind, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”  I was reminded, as difficult and challenging as it has been living with the unknown that comes with cancer, fear of getting the “big C” can be just as terrifying.  I thought of my children.  I wondered, as I have many times in the past, what fears, anger, guilt and uncertainty would come to them growing up with their father having cancer, or will their feelings be balanced with the honesty and clear-sightedness that can come from lived experiences.

“If you can afford it, it’s probably a good idea to keep your health insurance for a number of reasons,” I responded.  “We’ve found that when we’ve needed ours, we’re usually very thankful we have it.”


Copyright © 2011 Jeannie Moloo. All Rights Reserved.


Jeannie Gazzaniga Moloo PhD, MS, RDN cared for her late physician husband through 12 years of blood cancer treatments, including a stem cell transplant, while raising their three young children. She is an award winning registered dietitian nutritionist and former owner of a clinical nutrition practice where she advised clients on healthy eating to manage heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and gastrointestinal conditions. She is a Ph.D. in epidemiology, with an emphasis in preventive medicine and environmental health. For nine years, she was a national media spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics providing sound, science-based nutrition advice to media, consumers, industry, and researchers. She has been quoted in several publications including the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and Parents Magazine, and appeared on ABCNews, CBSNews, NBCNews, NPR, and KYGO-FM.

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