My name is Michelle and while the government is shut down, my cancer continues.
When the government closed more than week ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was set to review my medical files to possibly be entered into a clinical trial for a new medication that could save my life. I've already been through nine months of chemotherapy, two cycles of radiation, a spinal fusion and several tumor removal surgeries and all of these procedures are taking a toll on my body. I have sarcoma which is a rare form of cancer. I need another form of treatment and the drug in the NIH trial I'm being considered for is it.
This isn't just about me. Every week, about 200 new patients -- including sick children -- begin NIH clinical trials. Now we're being told that we have to wait until the government re-opens to start our trials. The NIH has said that six different trials could have been started in the first week of the shutdown alone. About 75 percent of NIH's employees -- thousands of people -- have been furloughed because of the shutdown. It's not even just about us. What doctors learn from our medical trials could help thousands more in the future -- even you or a loved one. Even if I'm not found eligible for the specific NIH trial I am being considered for, the only way that I will be able to acquire this drug will be to go through programs administered by the FDA or the National Cancer Institute (part of NIH) -- both of which are also impacted by the shutdown.
I'm furious that Congress has chosen to shut down the government and leave so many of us behind. This is not just about the debt ceiling or national parks. For me, the shutdown means that Congress is denying me potentially life-saving treatment. I speak for everyone battling cancer when I say we don't have time to wait.
The government shutdown is affecting so many of us across the country in a very personal way. For me, its affecting my fight for my life. I've had enough and it's time to get NIH -- and our country -- moving again. It's time to stop the government shutdown. Please join me in asking your member of Congress to stop the government shutdown and get back to functioning again.
Michelle Langbehn launched a petition on Change.org. You can learn more about or sign the petition here.