A Letter to Senator-elect Kamala Harris, From a Woman With an Invisible Illness

Dear Senator-elect Kamala Harris,

Congratulations on your recent, groundbreaking election! You were a bright spot in an otherwise caustic election that left many, me most certainly included, troubled and anxious about the future. But this isn’t a post about politics – it’s a plea from a very concerned constituent and, a request for your partnership and advocacy for a group of citizens that is so often overlooked.

You see, I am a member of a community faced with difficult decisions every day. A citizen with an invisible, chronic illness that has permanently changed the way I live my life.

Healthcare is one of the myriad important issues that was at stake in the election, and it is certainly one I hold close to my heart. As someone who depends on multiple medications, doctors and cutting-edge therapies, I understand the necessity of an affordable healthcare system that includes options for those who may be unable to work or those that cannot obtain insurance through the workplace. I believe it is imperative that we keep in place the moratorium on denying individuals with pre-existing conditions or only offering inordinately high-priced options to this group. In addition we need to maintain the elimination of lifetime caps. Patients should never be forced to go without necessary medications or care. And no one should ever have to make the untenable (and, unfortunately, common) decision between medicine or food.

My life is filled with doctors appointments, tests and medical professionals who work hard to treat my complex and rare disease. I was recently prescribed new medication that will give me a greater quality of life, but without insurance it would be prohibitively expensive. I hope we can return to a place where I need not worry that I may not be able to take it tomorrow. Instead we should work toward a future that fosters medical innovation, research and cures for rare diseases, common illness and terminal conditions alike.

Before my illness I worked for and with the government for many years; I know how daunting and delicate preserving these principles can be. So I offer up my partnership and support of your efforts, and I thank you in advance for fighting for us: the chronically ill, the disabled, those struggling silently, invisibly and all too often without a representative or seat at the table.

In unity and with determination and hope in my heart,

Jennifer Heater


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

student with a backpack about to climb steps

When I Wish I Told a Teacher About My Invisible Illness

I still remember when I was first judged for having an invisible illness. While I was in college, I had been experiencing some unexplainable and serious neurological symptoms. A CT scan showed there were a cluster of veins in my brain, and I needed an MRI scan to determine whether or not the abnormal brain cluster [...]
group of friends wearing costumes

To the Friends Who Love Me Through My Chronic Illness

Dear Friends, You know who you are. You’ve taken care of me for over a year now, and I feel like I owe you a true thank you, a thank you the whole world can see because that’s how awesome you all are. First, thank you for being my friends at all. I came to [...]
Young woman sitting in waiting room, side view

The Time You Spend Waiting When You're Chronically Ill

There must be thousands of posts, blogs and vlogs out there, and if you’re anything like I was when first diagnosed, you would have read or working your way through most of them by now. They talk of how your life will change, how many doctors appointments you will have and how your bedside cabinet [...]
woman looking at sunset

Things I Cherish as a Person With a Chronic Illness

I believe every day should be filled with gratitude for blessings both big and small. Living with a chronic illness can be challenging, so I like to focus on the blessings. Here’s a list of things I cherish as a chronically ill young woman: I cherish the relationships in my life that allow me to [...]