Dear Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary:

I’m writing to you today to let you know my thoughts on the speech you gave at the Republican National Convention last week. Before I get started, let me congratulate you on being an accomplished woman, holding the title of White House Press Secretary, after obtaining an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. I recognized your name before you were hired as press secretary from your many appearances on CNN as one of those talking heads. 

I remembered reading about you, as I knew that you had chosen to have a bilateral mastectomy as a preventative measure from being diagnosed with breast cancer. I am a breast cancer survivor, so when you spoke last week during the convention about your experience, my ears perked up. Breast cancer survivors tend to stick together, offering each other support and encouragement. 

I realize that you are not an actual cancer survivor, in that you were never diagnosed with the horrible disease. Instead, as you said, after you learned that you have the genetic mutation that can cause breast cancer, you chose to get a preventive mastectomy.

I applaud your decision and know it took courage. You mentioned that it was one of the hardest decisions you ever had to make and as you made it, you fought back tears. I never had the option of a preventative mastectomy. When I was 33, I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare but very aggressive form of breast cancer. At that time, I had a 5-month-old baby and a 3-year-old daughter. I went through six months of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, six more months of chemotherapy, weeks of radiation and more surgery. 

But, just as you said, I feel lucky like you to have had the support of my family. But, you know what else, Kayleigh, that I feel grateful for: you and I both had health insurance, giving us access to wonderful doctors, who, for me, saved my life. In fact, in order for you to even get tested to know you had a genetic mutation, you had to have a good health insurance or the financial means to pay for it. 

As I listened to your story, it angered me. Here you are, using your medical diagnosis to conjure up votes for a president who has made it one of his top priorities to dismantle the very healthcare system that paid for your test that started your process.

What did the president do for you: he called you. OK, that’s thoughtful. But, as he was calling, his administration was trying to take away healthcare for millions of people who depend on it to get the test that you say may have saved your life or the treatment desperately needed after diagnosis. 

Even as you spoke about how lucky you were to wake up with your husband, mom and dad, and Jesus Christ by your side, the White House was fighting to take away protections for women with pre-existing conditions and women’s access to affordable healthcare. 

So, as you came out of surgery, you weren’t wondering how you were going to pay for your procedures. You weren’t wondering “what if I have cancer, where will I get the insurance to pay for the treatment.” And, apparently, it didn’t occur to you that if coverage for pre-existing conditions is taken away, the daughter that you spoke so lovingly about might not have a chance to have insurance cover the procedure you applauded yourself for getting if she has the same genetic mutation. 

What women and men with breast cancer need is the ability to pay for the chemotherapy that is prescribed, the radiation that is required, the surgeries that are specified. Without insurance, Kayleigh, those survivors cannot have that same choice you had: your choice to cut down on your chances of getting the disease. Trump is trying to take away the very health insurance that for millions of women is needed to be able to make the decision you did or to seek the treatments needed if they don’t have the luxury you do. 

Support and phone calls from friends is important, but you hold a powerful position, and instead of cheapening your medical journey by trying to garner votes, please use your position to protect the healthcare for the millions of women who will need it if diagnosed. 


Ellen Kreth is publisher of the Madison County Record and can be reached at ekreth@mcrecordonline.com