I am Victoria Stuessel. I’m a mom to three beautiful children and a wife to my husband of seven years. I’m a 34-year-old Californian. I also happen to have multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that affects the entire central nervous system. My immune system constantly attacks my brain and spinal cord, often making everyday tasks like playing with my daughter, driving, working, and taking care of my family unbearably painful. While the symptoms of this diagnosis are difficult to live with, one thing that has made my journey far more difficult is the cost of prescription drugs.
My diagnosis came slowly as it was first thought that I had a stroke in 2012 and slowly, my symptoms began to intensify. It seemed that daily tasks became more and more painful for me to complete. My diagnosis finally came on May 24, 2016 after many doctors visits and second opinions. I’ve taken a dozen different medications that have caused severe financial stress for my family. My medications, without insurance, can cost up to $7000 a month. With such steep price tags, I have had to skip medications that help delay the progression of this illness, and this has become detrimental to my health. When skipping doses, the onset of my symptoms become more rapid. I begin to struggle with my balance and any action I take becomes painful. We’ve also had to forgo sending my daughter to preschool. While we would love to go on a family vacation, I realize that this is just wishful thinking as we have committed so much of our finances to my health. We solely rely on my husband’s wages as the symptoms of MS have forced me out of my job as an optician.
In the time that I have lived with MS and have been dedicating huge portions of my family’s income to my medications, I have grown into a passionate advocate in my district, state, and country. During my time as an advocate, I have been able to work on a campaign to prevent Big Pharma from concealing why prescription drug prices are rising for California patients. My goal is to lower the prices of prescription drug prices for people like me, but to also rally other people around a cause that is impacting many other Americans. Americans everywhere are skipping doses, refinancing their homes, unable to assist in paying for their children’s educational careers, skipping meals. In order to pay for drugs to keep them alive while pharmaceutical companies are rolling in profits.
Anna Eshoo, who has taken $1.58 million from the pharmaceutical and health products industry, cannot be a Congresswoman.
Her actions have helped make extreme financial hardship a side effect of being diagnosed with a chronic illness. I’d like to ask Californians, on behalf of people like me and others nationwide facing the double burden of illness and high prescription drug prices, to vote Anna Eshoo out of office. Anna Eshoo has received over $126,000 in campaign contributions directly from the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture my drugs. This is unacceptable.