Exclusive Blogging from Campaign Trail: Michelle Obama's Inspiration From One Breast Cancer Survivor

The first lady, in the second of a week-long series of daily exclusive blog posts for iVote on iVillage, talks about women, such as a breast cancer survivor named Meredith Bohn, who have inspired her during the presidential campaign.

First Lady Michelle Obama has been hitting the campaign trail over the last year to help re-elect her husband. This week on iVillage, she shares the inspiring stories of five incredible women she’s met along the way. Follow her blog all week long at iVillage.com/iVote. And, if you have any questions about where or when to vote this fall, just go to GottaVote.com to find all the information you need.

Meredith Bohn is a strong woman. She’s an Army veteran and a small business owner – and when the going gets tough, Meredith gets tougher.

That’s what she showed in May of 2008, when, in the space of a few weeks, Meredith was diagnosed with breast cancer and her husband lost his job. Their family had COBRA coverage for a few months, but after that, they knew they would be uninsured. Luckily, just as their insurance was about to run out, her husband found another job – one with health insurance.

“It was really critical for us to keep that coverage in place,” Meredith said. “I knew that I would have had a preexisting condition and nobody would have helped me.”

And what’s extraordinary about Meredith is that she decided she had to do more than breathe a sigh of relief for herself – she wanted to make sure no other woman would ever have to face that same situation.

Although she was still fighting breast cancer, Meredith got involved in the 2008 election as a volunteer for my husband. She made phone calls and even knocked on a few doors because she knew how frustrating it was to fight with insurance companies to just to get a doctor-ordered MRI. She was scared that someday, even if she got healthy, she could be labeled with a pre-existing condition and be denied coverage. She believed that breast cancer patients like her shouldn’t be worrying at all – they should just be focused on getting better. And she wanted to make things fairer not just for herself, but for everyone else as well.

Two years later, when Barack signed health reform into law, Meredith knew that her vote and all her hard work had been worth it. She knew that in the years ahead, fewer families would have to experience the worries and fears that hers did. Because of health reform, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against people because they get breast cancer or diabetes or some other serious illness. And they won’t be able to charge women more than men for the same coverage.

When we met in New Hampshire in early August, I thanked Meredith for her service and for all she had done for this country, and I let her know just how much her story inspired me. I told her how meaningful it was to Barack to have been able to help people like her all across our country.

Meredith told me that that’s exactly the reason she’s back at it again this fall, volunteering to re-elect a president who will protect health reform from those who want to repeal it.

If anyone doubts the impact this election will have on our lives and the direction of our country – just think about what it will mean for Meredith.

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