Dear President Obama,
I am here today because I almost lost my mother because of the lack of access to quality health care.
My name is Catherine Pyun and I am a 4th generation Korean American, born and raised in California. My great-grandfather was one of the first Korean immigrants to this country.
Currently, I am actively working with the Korean community in the Bay Area. I have been involved for many years in nonprofit work because to me, giving back is an important part of being a citizen of this country.
Because my family has always been a guiding inspiration in my life, I jumped at the chance to work for the Korean community when the opportunity arose. I wanted to help others who are in similar situations as my mother.
In her case, my mother almost passed away because of the lack of language access and cultural competency in the treatment of her aggressive liver disease. The inability to effectively communicate with the medical community caused barriers to appropriate care.
My mother was one of the lucky ones: she was able to receive a transplant. But stories like hers don’t only impact those who are sick. They affect the families and support networks of those who become ill.
When my mother became sick, my sister went on leave from work to be my mother’s caretaker. She was out for so long she eventually lost her job. My sister can’t find a job now, let alone one that provides health benefits. Because of a pre-existing condition, she cannot afford health care on her own. She remains uninsured and runs the risk of developing a serious health condition herself. We have learned that when the system fails one of us, it fails all of us.
President Obama, I strongly urge you to work with Congress on a health care plan that provides quality care that is accessible and affordable to all because good health is the right of all people.
The Choice Before Us: Letters to President Obama is also available in PDF format. Edited and compiled by the Center for Community Change, Northwest Federation of Community
Organizations and National Korean American Service & Education Consortium.