Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have said the government shutdown is limited -- and not affecting essential government functions.
Rhonda Ulmer is 38 years old. She’s a single mother with three children. She says she’s always wanted to see the Grand Canyon -- her battle with cancer has made that dream more urgent.
Friends always tell her she looks fine.
“My cancer is inside, so my cancer doesn't show on the outside. It doesn't show that I'm sick,” she said.
It's called Liposarcoma, and it attacks fat cells and the deep tissue surrounding internal organs.
Rhonda had four surgeries, removing major organs including a kidney and a portion her small and large intestines.
“I'm constantly battling it, and it's taken a toll on our family,” she said.
There is no cure. When she was diagnosed four years ago, doctors gave her five years to live.
“Every day I wake up is a blessing,” she said. “Every day I'm able to spend with my kids is something I take and I treasure because it's going to become a time when I won't be able to have that time with my kids. And so that's why it's so important that I spend as much time as I can right now.”
Now a group called the Dream Foundation has put together a time for Rhonda and her kids to spend together, at the Grand Canyon.
“I think just being out there, being in God's nature, and just being surrounded by all that beauty it sort of would just take my mind off of constantly battling cancer each day,” she said.
But watching the news this week, Rhonda heard the federal government shut-down has closed all national parks. The flight and hotel are already booked for next week -- so they're going. They just hope they'll have something amazing to see when they get there.
“I know some people may say well, the Grand Canyon will always be there but with the type of cancer I'm battling and fighting, there's no guarantee that I'm going to always be here," she said.
It appears that portions of the Grand Canyon can still be viewed, but with the national park closed many of the best vantage points are not accessable.
Rhonda Ulmer pulls no punches on her opinion of the shutdown itself.
After leaving work because of her cancer, she wound up paying more than $600.00 dollars a month for health insurance through COBRA.
Then last year she was able to buy health insurance because of changes in Maryland under the Affordable Care Act. Now she pays around $200.00 a month.
For more information on Rhonda and her fight against Liposarcoma, click here
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