Meet the Cancer Patient Who is No Longer Being Treated Because Of the Shutdown

Meet Michelle Langbehn. She's a young mother, a cancer patient and she's enrolled in what could be a live-saving clinical trial. The only thing standing in her way? She's one of the 200 cancer patients being refused care this week because of the brinkmanship and dysfunction in Washington.

Shortly after giving birth to her daughter the 29-year-old mother was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Because it was at a very advanced stage, she was told chemotherapy would not be long-term solution. In an emotional interview with Sarah Kilffe for the Washington Post, the new mother explained just how devastating it was for her to learn that she probably wouldn't get to see her toddler grow up. 

Thankfully, her doctor explained that there were other options. Michelle looked into clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health and found one that was right for her.

"This one seemed perfect to me because it was what I needed. It was a treatment that targets the tumor from the inside, basically, and kills it from within. It's so different from any other treatment like chemo, which attacks all rapidly growing cells. There’s no guarantee that this might be the drug that helps but, at the same time this trial is as close to a magic bullet as we’ve found," she told Sarah Kilffe.

Michelle's hopes of living to see her daughter grow up were dashed when the government shutdown happened on October 1. Doctors were forced to interrupt her evaluation process and wait until the government re-opens in order to start her trial. "It would give me a chance to think about the future. Right now the future is unknown," Michelle said while talking about the opportunity to get on a clinical trial.

Despite all in uncertainty, Michelle is keeping hope, but she has powerful words to send to the lawmakers in Washington. "I want to tell them that lives are at stake. This isn't just a matter of inconvenience. This is a matter of life or death. I’m not just doing this for myself. There are 200 people that are trying to get into clinical trials each week. I want to speak for all of us."

The fact that this mother's trial has been deemed "non-essential" but that Congress' gym, sauna, and swimming pool hasn't, literally shakes my core.

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Elizabeth Plank

Elizabeth is a Senior Correspondent at Mic and the host of Flip the Script.

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