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30 July 2012 / stageivhope

The Poop Strong Global Media Blitz

First off, welcome to all the new visitors we’ve had. After a barrage of press coverage following my Twitter conversation with Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, we’ve gotten quite a first-timers stopping by here at Stage IV Hope and over at the Poop Strong site and webstore.

I’ve been sharing the news on Twitter and Facebook, but here’s a consolidated version for those of you who’d rather not dig through all the previous posts or don’t use those social media sites:

  • Late last week, I managed to find myself (along with many friends and supporters) in the middle of a conservation on Twitter with Aetna’s PR team and CEO. Especially after my friend Jen decided to condense the tweets in an easy-to-read fashion on Storify, the story quickly started to go viral.
  • Somehow, the final outcome was that Mr. Bertolini admitted the current healthcare system is broken, he’s committed to fixing it, and he directed the company to step in and take care of the more than $118,000 in bills I’d accrued.
  • Soon after, I made the front page of the Arizona Republic (click to enlarge):

Sure, the Olympics and bath salts are a bigger deal, but I still made page A1.

  • Then, fellow survivor, the truly inspirational and courageous Xeni Jardin, caught wind of my story. She’d mentioned my cancer lemonade stand approach before, but this was a chance to spend more than an hour talking with someone whose really been amazing in publicly fighting breast cancer over the past few months. Also, BoingBoing! I love BoingBoing! Some audio of the interview should be posted soon, but the write-up gives a nice summary of the entire story (and features Jen’s original Storify). It was great discussing my experiences with Xeni, in the larger context of the need for systemic change. As she writes:

It looks like Arijit is covered, for now, but the system is still broken. The debate over health care costs has become a political football—but for people like me and Arijit and everyone else in America who isn’t in the 1%, health care costs are literally a matter of life and death. No one should suffer or die because they can’t afford medical treatment. It really is that simple.

  • Meanwhile, the Washington Post noticed. And I got a write-up in their blog Wonkblog. The very same blog that I share posts from regularly. Never did I expect I’d be sharing a link to a post about me. Hmm, maybe I’ll quote myself:

Guha was estastic with the result. At the same time though, his own experience has left him frustrated with the American health care system. As Guha sees it, he’s a well-connected guy who has access to resources, and got a lucky break. “Those who don’t engage in a Twitter war with Aetna’s CEO might not be so lucky,” he says.

“It’s great this all worked out,” he says. “The bigger issue is that, it’s so absurd that I should have to be doing this. It speaks volumes to how broken our health care system is.”

  • And then today, NPR got involved. Their health blog, Shots, had a piece about the WaPo piece. I wasn’t interviewed, but Aetna did chime in with a couple words about my situation:

We were able to connect with Mr. Guha through our social media channels and heard his concerns. Although he reached the limits of his plan, Aetna care managers have continued to provide support and we have worked to develop a solution. As a result, we will be able to cover Mr. Guha’s medical costs through the end of the plan year. It’s important to note that the school’s health plan for next year has significantly higher plan maximums.

While we are pleased to have found a solution for Mr. Guha, we recognize that there is much more work to be done to fix the problems in our health care system. We are committed to reforms that make the system work better for everyone.

And I think that brings us up to speed. It’s been a crazy few days out here in Phoenix…

Also, please remember that if you want to Poop Strong web 2.0 style, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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8 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Lisa Wilson / Aug 2 2012 7:25 AM

    Hi, my name is Lisa Wilson, I am from Missouri, and I have a friend/co-worker who is now 28, she was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon cancer at age 26. She is a single mom of 3 little kids… twin girls,5 and a little man, 3. When I saw the article on Yahoo, I immediately thought of her. She is now on disability, yet she still works a few days just trying to get by…. I praise the Lord that the CEO of Aetna did what he did for you!

  2. Jeannette / Aug 2 2012 10:18 AM

    Hi Arijit – My name is Jeannette and I was diagnosed with Stage III Rectal Cancer at the age of 35. No family history, no genetic mutation on my end either. It was so interesting to find your story, and I love your attitude. I have been cancer free for 4 years now (I just had my 4-year scan) and am so thankful for everyday I wake up on this earth. Just wanted to touch base, and let you know that you are not alone! It’s not exactly rare for us young-uns to be diagnosed, but I was always the youngest in the waiting room! Keep up good work, and thank you for bringing attention to our plight.

  3. Adam / Aug 2 2012 1:21 PM

    Good for you bud! Way to let those buggers know. Poop well my friend.

  4. Robert Fowler / Aug 2 2012 5:15 PM

    I was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in June of last year. I can no longer teach and I pay almost 700 a month for my insurance. I currently owe over $60,000 for things my insurance doesn’t cover. Its good to hear that your medical bills have been taken care of, but most importantly that you are in remission. I’m responding very well to treatment, but I still have the fear of losing this battle hanging over my head. I struggle with digestive problems and hernias from my surgeries that are very rehabilitate

    • Robert Fowler / Aug 2 2012 5:18 PM

      This is to finish my first reply.
      Dehabilitating making even small tasks very difficult. I pray everyday for healing and for guidance. Your story has given me hope.

  5. Reshmi / Aug 3 2012 10:21 AM

    Hi Arijit, I came to this blog from the NYTimes article. Congratulations in your victory! The way to recovery is however, much longer.

    I was in a car accident in 2010. I had a much smaller bill (30K), but it was a similar story.

    Good luck!

  6. Jeff / Feb 14 2013 2:17 AM

    Hopefully Obama’s new measures in his second term will bring some amount of strength, hope and ease for all of us in this boat.

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