I lost my practice.

My name is Teresa Hartley and I am a resident of Blaine, Washington. I worked as a psychotherapist for many years, practicing in two different cities. I am now 70 years old, and look back on my time working fondly. But my ability to practice my calling was stripped from me in 2007 when I was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis.

The survival rates of patients with Wegener’s are not good. Patients usually relapse within 5 to 7 years. However, I was able to start an innovative course of medication. Cytoxan and Rituxan, which are usually used to treat cancer, were successfully used to treat my granulomatosis. I have not relapsed thanks to these drugs.

But taking these drugs came at a cost. I very quickly had to file for bankruptcy and I lost my psychotherapy practice immediately. This was devastating to me. Following that, I applied to disability.

The cost for a single infusion of Rituxan is about $13,000. Although the medical center I was having the infusions at was covering a good chunk of the costs, the financial result of taking the drug was ultimately ruinous.

I am a senior citizen on a fixed income, and there are others like me in the state of Washington. If I did not have health insurance, the price of the drugs I had to take would have led to my death. I already lost my livelihood due to high healthcare costs. I don’t want to lose my life. Washingtonians deserve legislation that works to lower drug prices, because drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them.