I took a little time this weekend to bake a heart-shaped cake. My mother was born on February 14, 1912 – 106 years ago today. She loved her special connection to Valentine’s Day, and when I was a little girl, I bought some heart-shaped pans at the dime store to bake her birthday cake.
Many years later, when my mother was in her 80s, she had some surgery for a cancerous polyp – nothing serious. Later that night after Daddy sent all of us home, she was watching TV in bed with Daddy holding her hand. She sat up and said, “Don, there’s that gas pain again.” Then she fell back dead. The autopsy showed that my mother had advanced heart disease – never diagnosed and never treated.
Too often we think of heart disease as a “man’s disease,” but it’s the #1 killer of women – causing 1 in 3 deaths every year. Heart disease can often go undiagnosed, and the symptoms of a heart attack can be different for men and women, so fewer women than men survive their first heart attack.
Access to good medical care – regular check-ups and preventative care – is the first step to fighting heart disease. That’s why I fight so hard for community health centers. They provide the best possible basic health care at lower costs to anyone who walks through their doors. For months, the GOP let federal funding for our community health centers expire. The community health center professionals that I spoke to from MA and across the country were horrified that they’d have to lay off doctors and nurses, cut services, or reduce hours.
We fought tooth and nail for that funding for more than 100 days, and I have some good news: as part of last week’s budget deal, we secured $7B for community health centers over the next two years. That was a $600 million bump in funding.
I still have my heart-shaped pans – and even though my mother is gone now, I still bake a heart-shaped cake every Valentine’s Day to remember her. But now I’m doing something more: I’m fighting to make sure everyone’s mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, wife, partner, friend and neighbor can get the basic health care they need to live long, healthy lives with the people they love. Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️❤️❤️