Story Bank: Chris, Winslow

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Chris, Winslow

Chris grew up in Harmon, a little town northeast of Skowhegan. His father owns a construction company and his mother is a longtime seamstress. Chris worked for his dad installing septic systems and doing road construction for 12 years until about a year ago when he moved to Winslow to be with his partner and her three children. He now works part-time as a spare driver for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program. Chris also takes care of the children – ages 14, 12, and 3 – after school and while his partner is working.

Six years ago, Chris noticed a mole on his chest. He did not have health insurance at the time. He put off going to the doctor until one day, he knew something was wrong. He went to the doctor at a walk-in clinic in Pittsfield. They removed the mole right away. When the biopsy came back, it was positive for cancer. The clinic immediately sent him to a doctor in Brewer that specializes in treating cancer. Soon after, he was sent to a surgeon in Bangor. The computerized tomography (CAT) scan alone was $10,000. “I could’ve put a down payment on the machine,” said Chris. His surgery was another $10,000.

Luckily, Chris qualified for MaineCare and got the care he needed to deal with the cancer, but it wasn’t a simple path. “They took two inches right under my neck," he said. "They glued it instead of stitches. I ended up with a crook in my neck for a year and had issues with my shoulder. Still, I was the one in the family that took it the best."

After a few years, Chris’s MaineCare eligibility was reviewed and due to the state of Maine not accepting Medicaid Expansion funds from the federal government, Chris found out he was no longer eligible and lost his MaineCare. Now, Chris worries about addressing his health care needs and making sure he doesn’t face cancer again. “If it came back and I had to sustain testing, I couldn’t afford it,” he said. "It’s better to treat something early when it's benign than when it’s overgrown and there’s little that can be done or it’s very expensive at that point. I am sure if I let the melanoma go longer, it would’ve spread through my body and my chances would’ve been very different.”