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Tim was working in construction in 2012 when he first started noticing sores in his foot. He didn’t have health insurance, but when the sores became infected, he used his limited savings to see a doctor. The doctor treated the wound, but for the next five years, Tim had periodic sores on his feet.
It wasn’t until 2017, when his foot wasn’t healing well from a sore, that Tim was diagnosed with diabetes and was told that his sores were diabetic foot ulcers. By the time he was diagnosed, the infection had gotten into his bones, and his only option was to have his leg amputated.
“If I had basic medical care,” Tim said, “I would have gotten a check-up every year. I would have known I was diabetic earlier and gotten treatment. I wouldn’t have lost my leg.”
After Tim recovered from the amputation, he struggled to find work that didn’t require him to be on his feet all day. He began playing guitar and singing for a local cover band, playing in shows and restaurants across town for a living. In 2019, he again saved up enough money to go to a doctor because he noticed a lump on the side of his throat. The doctor said he had enlarged lymph nodes and gave him medication. A year later, he went to the doctor again because the lump had grown and was interfering with his singing.
Tim’s doctor ordered an ultrasound and a biopsy, and after a few weeks, Tim found out that he had stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “A year ago, it would have been stage I,” Tim said. “I would have gone back to the doctor sooner when it didn’t go away if I had health insurance. But I didn’t have health care coverage.”
“A little thing turned into a big thing. That’s the hardest thing about not having health insurance. You don’t go to the doctor to get little things checked out,” he said.
Tim’s cancer treatments have been covered through a charity care program at his local hospital, but the radiation has burned his vocal chords. “Every once in a while, my voice opens up, and I can sing like I used to. But sometimes I have to fight just to talk,” he said.
Tim’s voice is slowly getting better, but he knows that if he had access to health insurance – and with it, routine screenings and preventative care – his story would have been very different.