This past year has been full of ups and downs for me: from the birth of my first child to my diagnosis with and lengthy treatment to battle testicular cancer. Both experiences have left me more grateful than ever for being alive – and I credit my survival, and my ability to enjoy my daughter’s first smile and first laugh, to having access to affordable health care.

Sen. Susan Collins did the right thing when she stood up for Maine’s cancer patients and survivors by voting “no” on a key motion related to the Senate’s health care bill. And for that, she has my gratitude – and the gratitude of my new, growing family.

Cancer is not partisan, and Sen. Collins has demonstrated that discussions about access to health coverage shouldn’t be, either.

Instead of being criticized for taking a stand for the health of Mainers, the senator should be considered a guidepost for what this process could look like. My family and I hope that Sen. Collins’ actions help pave the way for a new bipartisan process on health reform.

Looking ahead, we call on Sen. Collins to hold the line for cancer patients and those at risk of cancer in the state. The debate over health care will continue. There are things that can be done to improve the current law, but should not be done at the expense of access to affordable and accessible health coverage for seniors and those with chronic diseases like cancer.

Tom Kelley

volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Lewiston