Tears for Liz

My friend Liz was an intense supporter of the ACA.  There was a good reason.  She had her health insurance canceled back in 2005 when she was stricken with a nasty cancer.  Chemotherapy nearly bankrupted her.  But she survived. She became a cancer survivor and started a national support group for patients like herself, a group counting a membership of over 5000.  She was very well informed and attended medical conferences to keep up with the latest advances.

However, she still had no medical insurance.  So a few weeks ago she signed up on-line for the ACA and she was waiting for her insurance card.  She wasn’t feeling well.  Fully aware of the costs, she did not want to see a specialist in NY City until her insurance card was in hand.  However, on Monday she went to an emergency room because of shortness of breath.  A few hours later she was dead!

Its not clear what happened.  BUT it is very clear that

  • Health insurance is not a “joke” –  in fact, lacking health insurance dissuades us from consulting a physician when we know that we should.  Lacking insurance really costs lives.
  • Treatment for cancer and other disorders can be extremely expensive and often leads to personal bankruptcy, specially when you are uninsured.

Many people were touched by Liz and I know they are mourning.  I  know she would want us all to fight for the ACA (Obamacare) in her name.  RIP Liz.

About D. Posnett MD

Emeritus Prof. of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
This entry was posted in ACA, Health Care and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Tears for Liz

  1. Mike Anthony says:

    Very poignant, David. Our memory of Liz should serve as a reminder that health care is first and foremost a right available to everyone, or should be.

  2. Such a loss. It seems that her entire following of cancer survivors are on her Facebook page paying homage.

  3. A personal Eulogy (by Larry Green):

    May 29, 2014

    Liz had one maxim in life. Show me, don’t tell me. For writing it meant a five word picture is better than a page of words. And in life, it meant – don’t tell me what you are going to do for me, show me what you are going to do for me.
    Boy, oh, boy, did this community show this family. We are overwhelmed by the support, comfort and love you have shown us. You have greatly honored Liz with the incredible efforts you showed her! We humbly thank you.
    “It is a human life,” wrote Mark Twain, “that we are blown upon the world, float buoyantly upon the summer air for a little while, complacently showing off our summer grace and form and our dainty irredescent colors; then we vanish with a little puff, leaving nothing behind but a memory and sometimes not even that.”
    But we are lucky. Liz Hart McMillan’s irridescent bubble has left us all a bounty
    of wonderful memories. And more than that she made her mark on the world.
    I am one of those lucky people on this planet to have experienced Liz Hart
    McMillan. And everyone who knows her knows what that means. She was a
    life-force to be reckoned with.
    Who was this life-force, Elizabeth Hart McMillan? Well, she came from a hardy stock. The family’s descendants helped build and found the nation. A descendant signed the constitution.
    She sometimes called herself an Air Force brat but she didn’t like the term. It was a short cut to describe her childhood because her father, George McMillan born in Dennison, Texas and was nominated to West Point Academy by the great Texas Congressman and Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn.
    George graduated and married Pat, her mother, started a family and went on to be a fighter pilot, an instructor at West Point and on to a successful and important political career in Texas and Washington D.C.. So Liz moved with the family wherever the Air Force and George’s career took them.
    Next to my father, George is one of the most generous men I have met. It must be where Liz got her wide streak of generosity. I want to thank him for the love and support he gave Liz and I over the years both in good and bad times. I salute you, sir.

    Liz was born in Wisconsin. I couldn’t tell you which town or city. It doesn’t
    matter, because as everyone knows you can take the girl out of Texas but you can’t Texas out of the girl. She told everyone she met that she was from
    Texas. If you listened carefully, when she got a little angry, or excited, you could hear that Texas twang. And besides that she had the bearing of a southern
    woman, which I always admired.
    She was statewide High School Latin Champion of Texas and attended St.John’s
    College, one of the great books school in New Mexico and fell into a life long affair with that state.
    She was mentored by the great physicist, Richard Feynman. In the late 70’s, while studying in England, she dated a future prime minister, Tony Blair. She called him a bore.
    She was a punk rocker, who pub-crawled her way through the London punk scene at the time. She knew Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. From that time in England and for the rest of her life, she became an avid anglophile.
    Her favorite punk club though was here in NYC, CBGB’s. It should be no
    surprise that she knew the Ramones. Her favorite song, bar none was Cyndi Lauper’s, Time After Time. I loved the Miles Davis cover. In fact, she sublet her apartment in NYC to Sandy Gennero, Cyndi Lauper’s drummer.
    Some of her favorite popular musical groups were of course, The Ramones,
    The Clash, and Van Morrison. She liked Gordon Lightfoot, particularly, the song, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Always the writer she liked the narrative. For Jazz, like me, it was Miles Davis. Of course she loved all classical music and loved church music and hymns. I can’t think of a hymn she didn’t know by heart.
    She hated The Eagles. Just like the taxi driver in The Big Lebowski who slams on his brakes and throws the dude to the curb for wanting to listen to The Eagles. I am the dude. I haven’t been able to listen to The Eagles in the car with Liz for 14 years. Linda, please explain to me how someone like Liz with the passion and love she had for New Mexico could not like The Eagles. Linda Cook is Liz’s best friend of 40 years and lives in Santa Fe.
    That was hard on me. I was a hippie in my student days. My venues were The Capitol, in Rye, NY, The Fillmore and Watkins Glen. My groups were, The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead. Luckily we both loved Pink Floyd. Eventually she came around and liked both groups after I told her that Miles Davis was a fan. Guess what I am listening to on my way home tonight?

    Her favorite writer over the years had become Mark Twain. Liz loved all mysteries particularly Agatha Christie’s, Poirot, both the books and the TV series.
    She would binge on the TV shows – Murder She Wrote, old Perry Masons and of course, Law and Order. I know a lot of you right now are wondering how Liz found any time to binge. Well, she did, and it’s the only dirty secret I’m going to tell.
    Her favorite films were, The Apartment, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot, The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, and I think her favorite was Ball of Fire. See the pattern, Barbara Stanwyck and Billy Wilder.
    Her favorite musical was Singing in the Rain. She loved Rowan Atkinson’s, Black Adder and her favorite Christmas movie, hands down, was Christmas in Connecticut. She held a torch for Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster and Robert Mitchum.
    Liz had a deep love and appreciation for all art of all periods. She was particularly fond of Edward Hopper and Ansel Adams. She had impeccable taste and a
    keenly developed aesthetic.
    She was a distinguished member of the Aspen Institute’s, Socrates Society.
    Liz was an accomplished fly fisherman, which was a bonus for me because I’ve been an avid sports fisherman all my life. When we bonefished, I cheated. I used spinning rod and a live crab for bait.
    She loved military history. She greatly admired Erwin Rommel. But it was George Patton she really had a love affair with. Ask Syrie. Patton said, “lead me, follow me or get out of my way.” Sound like anyone we know?
    Liz was a foodie. She loved food from everywhere – from Mexico to France; from Ducasse to hotdogs and canned Hormel Chili. Of course she was an accomplished cook in her own right. Famous for her chicken fried steak, Shepard’s Pie and Pasta alla Ennio. She was a trained and certified pastry chef. Anyone who has not had her ice cream, I feel sorry for. I and others will miss her Ice Tea which was legendary. She was a fantastic homemaker. All her homes were beautiful and welcoming.
    She was an expert on batteries and battery chemistry. You read that right. She understood that one of the biggest problems facing renewables like solar and wind is how to store the electricity when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. It’s called intermittency. She knew that ten years ago, when we invested in a startup battery company called Volta Flex.
    Like a lot of startups it failed but she became good and fast friends with the MIT professor, who invented the technology, Don Sadoway. He paid Liz a great compliment this past week when he said, he wished that some of his MIT undergraduate students had as good an understanding of battery chemistry as Liz did. He is saving the world with his new company which is working on grid storage. I urge you to Google, Don Sadoway. He is a legend at MIT. Watch his TED Talk, it will connect you to another person who knew Liz and give you great joy.
    She was a member of Investors’ Circle where she met Woody Tasch. They would become good friends. They were still brainstorming.
    Investors’ Circle when she joined in 2000 was a small nonprofit network of
    Angel Investors in SRI s or Socially Responsible Investments. She quickly became a dynamic member and leader. Woody, she and others grew Investors’ Circle into the oldest and largest of such networks. Investors’ Circle had a strong interest in organic food. Liz screened or was involved in many of the funding deals that included such notable companies such as Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Yoghurt, Neiman, and Coleman Ranch.
    Because of this interest in food, Woody left Investors’ Circle to form the non-profit network called, Slow Money. Slow Money is the funding arm to Carlo Petrini’s Slow Food Movement. Because Liz was a foodie and Carlo was so charming and she ever the flirt, she thought of joining Woody at Slow Money.Despite a standing invitation to have dinner with Carlo in Italy anytime we were there, she too was moving on. She had an Idea.
    That idea was Hope for Lymphoma, the Facebook group Liz formed several years back after her successful battle with the disease. She was convinced that Facebook was a disruptive innovation and that it had the potential to transform the way we do everything.
    Hope for Lymphoma is one of the largest open groups on Facebook. Liz said that including its subgroups it had over 70,000 members. It’s a great loss for the group. They are literally bereft.
    Recently she started applying what she had learned about Facebook through Hope for Lymphoma to politics. She did, and in the last elections some say she helped turn the tide for Supervisor Holst, who won.
    Liz at her core though was firstly and lastly, a communicator. One of the best writers I have ever encountered. She loved the Bible and knew both testaments backwards and forwards, chapter and verse. She was working on a series of essays for a book she called, “Religion for the Rest of Us.” She was working on a detective heroine novel with her sister Lee called, “U-Boats of the Caribbean.”

    It’s no wonder though, her mother, Pat is a distinguished writer of published books and articles on Interior Decorating. The writing is in the genes. Lastly,
    Liz was a fierce mother for her children and her bonus son, my son, Jason Green. God forbid anyone who got in the way of the best interests of her children. She fought tirelessly for them.
    We are grieving deeply for our loss. It has left us with an aching hole in all of us. But it is a selfish grief.
    We grieve because we won’t have Liz to comfort us, or call us to action. We won’t eat her ice cream again or drink her ice tea.
    But as this week has gone by, I’ve stepped out of myself. I started feeling her grief. The grief that she won’t see Pippa win an Academy Award, or Syrie
    become President or be the richest woman in the world, or teach children in Newark. She won’t see James crew at Henley-on-Thames in Oxford, England this June or see him off to Hobart College in the fall.
    I feel her grief that she won’t be able to go on safari so I can show her Africa. My selfish grief that she will never show me the mountains of New Mexico.
    So we grieve. They say time can make that aching hole in us smaller but I think for many of us it will never be completely filled in. This is how big the loss of this beautiful accomplished woman is.
    She lived constantly in the Zeitgeist. I envied her that. How thrilling that must have been. I just went along for the ride. I had the chance to love her deeply and be deeply loved by her. It was a great love.

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