In a personal note addressed the to Belly family, Belly’s bassist Gail Greenwood discusses her battle with cancer and her support for the Affordable Care Act.
Dear Belly family,
Unfortunately, as far too many of us know, cancer never comes at a good time. Last April, in the middle of rehearsals for Belly’s 2016 reunion tour, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Shows had been booked, advance tickets sold, and complicated travel and logistical arrangements were already in place–not just for the band, but for all of you making plans to travel to see us. As you can imagine, it was a huge “oh, shit…” moment.
I am blessed to be working with the dearest of friends in Belly, and my bandmates fully supported me in weighing every option and in every decision I had to make, including serious consideration of cancelling and rescheduling tour dates. My oncology team at Women & Infants Hospital (Belly fans!) actually encouraged me to go on tour and continue life as normally as possible, and worked my treatment schedule around each leg of the tour. I had surgery six weeks before we kicked things off with our ‘secret’ gig in Newport and then headed to the UK. I had my first chemotherapy treatment ten hours after flying back from our show in Dublin. Throughout chemo, my Belly compatriots patiently awaited my word on how I was feeling after each round and to see if the next leg of the tour would proceed, putting my health and my needs above all else. They have been incredible. And we did it–not a single cancelled or rescheduled show! LOVE to you, Tom, Chris and Tanya.
Though I prefer to keep health issues private, with the impending threat of repeal of the ACA (Affordable Care Act, or ‘Obamacare’), I
feel I cannot remain silent. Thanks to the ACA, many independent artists, musicians, freelancers and small business owners, such as my partner, Chil, and myself, and millions of low-income Americans have access to health insurance and medical care. Chil and I have been with the program since its inception, buying our health insurance through Rhode Island’s excellent exchange. This is not my first ride at the cancer rodeo, and without the provisions of the ACA (such as prohibiting the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and outlawing yearly and lifetime caps) I would’ve had a very difficult
time getting the treatment I needed. I can literally say that Obamacare has saved my life twice (so far….)!
Now, as a recent graduate of ‘Team Chemo’, I want to personally thank all of you for helping me get through the summer and fall portion of my treatment. Even though you may not have known all that was going on (or at least had the grace not to call me out on the suspicious assorted vegan-roadkill strapped on my head while on stage!), the joy you shared with the four of us on stage was pure unicorn dust, with a healing power no FDA-approved medicine can touch! You all helped me get through this and I can’t wait to see you again in 2017!