FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 29, 2010
TAMPA COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER SAVES A WOMAN’S LIFE
Mike Ramos, a well known and highly sought after commercial photographer in the Greater Tampa Bay area, saved a woman’s life in early November by helping her get a double mastectomy that she needed to save her life.
Mike has been a commercial photographer in the area for almost twenty years shooting fashion, products, architecture, healthcare, food & beverages, and more. Early in August one of his primary contacts at a women’s fashion line told him that her cousin who resides in Manatee County Florida had just been diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer and was devasted. Mike had worked with Paige for years on shoots and he called her and reached out to her as a friend should. Paige had breast cancer about nine years ago, and was uninsured at the time, but paid for her own treatment out of pocket because the economy was good. She was not able to get health insurance thereafter because of the pre-existing condition but was told that if she stayed cancer free for 10 years she could become insured.
Before the ten years was up she found a lump in the same breast in July of this year and went to have a biopsy, which came back positive. She was informed that the recurrence was life threatening as it was in the same breast and that she needed emergency surgery, at least a mastectomy if not a bilateral mastectomy. She was uninsured, but this time could not afford treatment because of the collapsed economy.
It took weeks before she even told anyone and more time to even get composure to start reaching out to all the well known breast cancer organizations. No one had any help. Many of the breast cancer organizations do a lot to help women with awareness, prescreening, research, post treatment survival and lifestyle and more, but, they could not offer help to someone who needed immediate surgery to save her life. In one conversation that Paige had with a doctors office, she asked, ‘what do people do?’ and the response was, ‘people that are not insured, and do not have assets, are not served.’ In other words, go home and die.
Mike called a long time friend of his and prominent plastic surgeon , Bart Rademaker, M.D. at the Rejuva Center For Plastic Surgery Wellness and Regeneration Spa of Tampa and asked for help. Paige was emotionally paralyzed and Mike needed guidance and Mike would not tolerate responses that would condemn someone to go home and die. Without hesitation, Dr. Rademaker offered to help and was committed to make sure that Paige would have a great outcome. Rademaker called another colleague of his, Robert Davidson M.D., a Surgical Oncologist at Surgical Associates of West Florida and Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, which is part of the Baycare Healthcare System.
Dr. Bart Rademaker is a well known Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in the Tampa Bay area who is always committed to doing the right thing and providing quality results to all of his patients. In the case of Paige, he clearly understood the unfortunate dynamics of the health care system, insurance and her disease. He took upon himself to make sure that Paige got the best possible care to ascertain the best possible outcome. His first step was to meet Paige and assure her that everything would be ok and that the right solution and the right team to bring her back to health would be put in place and thereby free her from her emotional paralysis. He helped her understand her situation and gave her a clear plan of action which included surgical and medical interventions as well as personal life coaching and other healing modalities like sound therapy and pre surgery meditation techniques to improve surgical outcomes and her recovery. Dr. Rademaker also assured her that she would get the best support to help her through this difficult journey.
Dr. Davidson responded to Rademaker’s call and said he would help right away. He met with Paige, and recommended mastectomy which was supported by the Tumor Board discussion. He recommended removing the opposite breast as well because her risk for a genetic mutation was high. Paige had her surgery on November 11th, 2010. She now hopes to be cancer free once again and the immediate cloud over her life has been lifted for now. Ironically, Mike did a photo shoot for a cancer survivor later the same day.
“These two doctors are the real hero’s” said Mike. “They stepped up when no one else would or could and offered to save Paige’s life with no expectation of anything in return. Baycare helped too. Paige was at the point of crying under the kitchen table for lack of help and did not want to die. She wanted to live and they gave her that gift. The gift of a second chance, and the gift of an opportunity to give back and make a difference. “
Mike wanted to give back as well because the doctors did not have to help, but they did. Being a commercial photographer/videographer he offered to do a video for the doctors in return. He started filming Paige’s story, and it is now on its way to being a documentary about Paige, being uninsured in America after healthcare reform.
“Paige went right through Breast Cancer Month with no one from that community being able to help” said Mike. “We are all still in shock and amazed. If they can’t help then, at that moment, then what are we doing? What are they doing?”
Not being a ‘policy wonk,’ Paige was told in August and September about the new healthcare reform law which went into effect on July 1, that supposedly prevented people from being discriminated against for health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. She stared calling insurance companies because she needed to apply for insurance in order to get denied so that she could apply for insurance through the high risk pools or whatever was being created under the new law. However, there were several problems: 1, all of this could take months, 6-9+ months to get through all the bureaucracy and she needed surgery immediately. Every day that she did not have surgery was an additional day for the cancer to spread. She did not have time; and 2, the new law eliminated pre-existing conditions for children and not adults. She was told by someone at an insurance company that if approved she would have to wait a year before the new insurance would cover the breast cancer—again, no time.
“If you are an adult in the U.S. today, and are uninsured, and do not have assets, like approximately 53 million people in the US according to latest data, and you have an acute and urgent illness, you will be told that you ‘cannot be served.’ In other words, you’ll be told to go home and die” said Bryan St.Laurent, an advisor to Mike Ramos who became involved in the project, “and that is after so-called Reform.” “Republicans who ran against healthcare reform just retook the House, and one Republican Congressman has already been caught complaining about having to wait 28 days before he becomes eligible for government healthcare or ‘socialized’ medicine. How long do all other American’s have to wait” said Bryan. “I think Paige could have waited 28 days for care. In fact she did from biopsy to surgery, but there was no one there to step in and make a difference, no solution like the Congressman got-- until Mike got involved. And I think that says a lot. That’s the way he is, not only when he’s trying to help, but also in his work. He is relentless in his pursuit of quality. This time he saved someone’s life.”
See the beginning of Paige’s story at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6qaxenZmwY
A website is under construction which will help Paige pay for chemotherapy and other medical services that she will need as part of her full recovery process. Watch for it at www.paigesfight.org . If you have any questions about the story, or would like to see if Paige can speak to your group about her experience, please call Bryan St.Laurent at 941-479-0811.
For more information:
Bart Rademaker, M.D., and Board Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
Robert S. Davidson, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Surgical Associates of West Florida
Baycare Health System