An Open Letter to President Trump

Dear Mr. President Donald J. Trump,

I know that you’re very busy bringing profound change to the American people, so I’m sorry to interrupt. And I’m sure that you’re even busier now that your #healthcare bill has passed through the House and is making its way through the Senate. But I’m hoping that you can take just a few minutes to read a story.

It’s about a woman who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She works for the University of Wisconsin — one of the highest-rated public universities in the world, famous for its tenacious pursuit of truth and knowledge. Each morning, this woman walks or rides the city bus to her office, where she spends the day as an accountant, helping the university’s multitude of auxiliary operations to function. In the evenings, when she’s not volunteering at the local arts center, she volunteers with the U.S.’s figure skating association by leading several committees. She’s also part of a book club, and she enjoys hiking with her dog, listening to musicals, and going to dinner with her 25-year-old daughter.

She’s a very active, healthy woman. She has a petite frame and delicate features. She’s never smoked, rarely drinks, and eats fresh, unprocessed foods. She’s 56 years old, and happy to be working with no plans to retire soon. But, someday, she’ll have to. And if the healthcare bill that you’ve so carefully crafted is passed, her life could become — to use your favorite phrase — a disaster.

That’s because, Mr. President, five years ago on this day, this woman — my mother — was laid on an operating table for eight hours while cancer was removed from her body. That was just the beginning; with summer came the grueling chemotherapy process. Although we are happily celebrating her five-year cancer-free anniversary, it’s not something that we like to remember if we can help it. Should your healthcare bill be passed, my mother’s battle against cancer would become impossible to forget. It would brand her more than the scars she already bears, and send her into another uphill battle — this time, against health insurance agencies who would revel in reaping the consequences of a situation that she had no control over. Your healthcare bill sides with those agencies. It does not side with my mother. It does not side with the Americans who need your help the most.

We have our differences, Mr. President, but I truly hope that you don’t come to share this experience with me. Having to watch a loved one — your wife, your daughter — fight for her life. And further, I hope that you never have to watch the leader of your country fight against your loved one who has already survived so much.

I thank you for your time.

Chelsea Schlecht


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