No one plans for the day when your doctor tells you, "You have cancer." I'll never forget six years ago -- on December 7, 2007 -- when it happened to me. My life and my heart were full -- a wonderful husband, three great children, a fantastic job with good benefits -- but in just one day I went from being a perfectly healthy 41-year-old woman to a breast cancer patient. Believe me when I tell you, there is no way to prepare yourself for news like that. It was devastating.
Seven surgeries later, I am very proud to say I am now cancer-free. But getting the "all clear" call from your doctor is just the beginning. I'll never be able to check the "no" box next to cancer on a health history questionnaire. My diagnosis will forever be a part of who I am. That's why I am so thankful that starting in January because of the Affordable Care Act, the up to 129 million Americans living with a pre-existing condition, including nearly 8 million in my home state of Florida, will finally have the peace of mind knowing that we can't be dropped from our insurance or denied coverage.
Behind each of these statistics are millions of stories just like mine. Going through my own cancer experience, it became undeniably clear: those facing cancer need and deserve all of the knowledge, tools, and support available from their community and government to fight the disease. Next year, Americans living with a pre-existing condition will join up to 17 million children already protected since 2010 from being denied health coverage due to a cancer diagnosis, asthma, diabetes or other conditions.
This is beyond politics, it's about the values of our country. The Republican obsession over repealing and sabotaging the health care law must stop. We must move forward and continue to educate Americans and businesses about the benefits of the health care law, from protection against discrimination because of a preexisting condition, to accessing preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies with no co-pays, to closing the Medicare Part D donut hole coverage gap so seniors can save on prescription drugs. Democrats are committed to protecting these important benefits and fighting against the irresponsible, and costly, efforts by Republicans to repeal our progress.
As I reflect on the last six years as a cancer survivor, I am more determined now than ever to ensure all Americans know the facts about their health care options. Our work continues every day as we improve healthcare.gov and more Americans sign up for insurance and join the millions who are already benefiting from the health care law. We must do all we can to ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care so that we can continue to build a strong middle class as we advance our economy and move forward. We must also ensure that when any American faces that day no one plans for, they only have to fight for their health rather than fight for coverage too.