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May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month. This time of recognition and awareness is important to me considering the fact that I am a 44 year-old African-American woman who has dealt with asthma and allergies all of my life. My family and I are quite familiar with this disease in that my grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins as well as my own two children have all been diagnosed with some form of allergies and asthma.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the lung airways. When someone is having an asthma attack, their airways become inflamed and narrow as a result of reacting to "certain triggers", making it extremely hard for that individual to breath.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 3 million African-Americans have asthma. As a result of several risk factors which include poverty, poor housing and the inability to access quality healthcare, African-Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma-related illness than their white counterparts. Asthma is also the leading reason why kids miss school.
Although there is no cure for this disease, people with chronic asthma can have productive lives by taking the necessary steps to keep asthma under control.
As with a lot of asthma sufferers, allergies, mildew, mold, dust, smoke, pollen, stress, cold air and some forms of exercise usually instigate asthma problems for me. Some other "lesser known" asthma triggers include second hand smoke, outdoor air pollution, perfumes, colognes and other strong scents, being overweight, pet dander and cockroaches. In order to maintain good health, it is imperative that asthma suffers minimize exposure to their triggers as much as possible.
Unfortunately, the president and the Republicans in the House of Representatives don't think my doctor visits are important or even necessary. On May 4th, , they passed the GOP health care bill, that if it is passed in the Senate, will probably cause me and 24 million Americans to lose their health benefits. Not to mention, individuals with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, will not be able to obtain health insurance.
To help put this travesty into perspective, when the GOP healthcare bill passed, Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted, "Donald Trump and the Republicans just celebrated voting to let thousands of Americans die so that billionaires get tax breaks..."
The great news about this turn of events is that we don't have to lie down and accept anything this administration attempts to pass that will be detrimental to our society.
We have the power to fight back. We have the right to protest. We have the courage to stand up to self-serving "political bullies". We must support organizations that lead the charge towards social justice.