Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

July 1st, 2012 9:01 PM

For Tracy, Jr., and for Mychelle: Our SiCKO Struggle Continues

SiCKO turned five this week.  The Michael Moore film that exposed the brutalities of the U.S. healthcare system and what that system has done to injure real, insured Americans turned five.  And along with that anniversary came both sober realities and the healing support that only one SiCKO can give to another.

We met as an extended family in Philadelphia this weekend – all who were subjects in SiCKO had been invited.  Dawnelle Keys, mother of little 2 year old Mychelle who died when she was denied care in an out-of-network hospital; Julie and Tracy Pierce, Jr., widow and son of the late Tracy Pierce who died when denied a bone marrow transplant by his insurance carrier; Reggie Cervantes and Billy Maher, 9/11 first responders who have suffered terrible health and life consequences because they had no health coverage at the time when SiCKO was filmed in 2007; Adrian Campbell Mongomery, who has faced cancer three times and financial ruin though she is only 30 years old; Larry and Donna Smith (me), who went bankrupt and who still face crushing medical debt and denied care for Donna’s current recurrence of cancer; and Lee Einer, SiCKO’s own health insurance industry whistleblower who called foul on an industry that profits off the death and suffering of its insured. 

As we each arrived to our hotel, we embraced each of our own with unmitigated joy.  Other SiCKOs who wanted to be there but could not sent their regrets:  Dr. Linda Peeno, who had been the medical director for Humana and who finally had a crisis of conscience that led her to tell her story was unable to attend, and John Graham, 9/11 rescue worker, also couldn’t make the trip.

Michael Moore joined us, as did his wonderful sister and SiCKO’s co-producer, Anne Moore, and her daughter, Molly Hardesty-Moore, and the incredibly talented coordinating producer and web guru, Eric Weinrib.  We spent hours privately catching up on one another’s lives and just resting in the love and support that has embraced us as an extended family since June 2007 when the film first premiered.  Few others in our lives understand where we have been and how it has felt to be simultaneously famous and forgettable.  The trauma in our lives has continued but has been mitigated by the deep reservoir of love from one another and from our Academy Award winning fearless leader and filmmaker, Michael Moore.  Though we were documentary subjects and not paid actors, none of us has ever doubted Michael’s support or his sincerity. 

After our private time together, we proceeded to more public venues – and to our more public faces and personas.  But for that few hours together, we could just be who we are and where we are without worry.  And those moments in life are so very rare.  We all soaked up the energy and the passion to store away for the future when the roads will grow too weary and the nights will grow too long.

During the formal program at Plays and Players Theater, when the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit and we had no air-conditioning, we all had a secret.  We love one another and we are ready to fight on.  We may have struggled mightily since SiCKO was released to keep our heads above water, but we are bonded by a love and dignity that is deep and so powerful.  We know we will reach the point when our stories will be historical tomes, and that because of our work and our sacrifice, we will someday stand victorious when the U.S. joins the rest of the industrialized world and provides healthcare to all.

But even in light of all the programmed moments and for all the good and dear people who wanted to spend just a bit of time with Michael Moore, and for all of the reasons we all support moving well beyond the Affordable Care Act just held to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court this week, I looked over and caught the reasons why I fight on.

During our public program when Michael was talking about Finland’s educational system and how they do not ask their kids to do homework, I saw a wide and easy smile on Tracy Pierce, Jr., and I knew we will fight on to the day when healthcare in America will match the resilience of our young people like Tracy, Jr., who in the face of the incredible trauma of losing his dad to insurance company greed are still strong enough and loving enough to smile broadly when they think of life without homework.  Clearly, being a SiCKO has helped heal us all.

But as we told Michael and as we told health insurance industry whistleblower Wendell Potter on stage in Philly on Saturday night, it isn’t the experts and the film producers or the pundits who will say when we have reached healthcare justice in America.  It’s the SiCKOs.  And we’re not there yet – a single standard of high quality care for all without financial barrier.  We want it and will stand shoulder-to-shoulder until we get it.

We cannot bring back little Mychelle and we cannot bring Tracy, Sr., back.  But we can love one another and fight on.  We’re still SiCKO after all these years, and we’ll be SiCKO until we win.  We’ll be a family until we die.  And Tracy, Jr., your dad would be so very proud.  Thank you for being there with us.  For you, we fight on.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? ...by Ray McGovern www.michaelmoore.com Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Latest from David Sirota on Enron billionaire John Arnold smuggling anti-pension propaganda into "neutral" institutions like PBS and now, the...

Mar 1st
12:58 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles