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Navigating Black Womanhood In The World Of Private Healthcare

On the 19th September 2017, my partner was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer. He needed a years’ worth of chemotherapy, liver and colon surgery.  I was 24-years-old when he was diagnosed, and I have since learned that no matter how old you are, there is never an easy way to be told that the person you love the most has a life-threatening illness. 

It seems disingenuous for me to write an article about the difficulties my partner and I have faced over the past year. Mainly because although our situation has been hard, our economic privilege has alleviated the pressures that so many faces in a country run by a government which seems committed to dismantling the National Health Service. 

My partner had his children in his early twenties. He has always been committed to supporting his family financially which has often meant working exceptionally long hours. Through what some of us used to describe as an irrational fear of getting sick, a few years ago he invested in health and life insurance. Despite being in his early thirties, he wanted to prepare for what would happen should he no longer be with us.

We are forever grateful for the doctors and nurses who have helped my partner through the various treatments. But one year on from beginning this process, I feel haunted by the ways I’ve been treated in these elite private healthcare facilities. I have been an outsider, someone who didn't belong, someone who was 'lost'. I’ve been monitored, surveilled, ignored and obviously, mistaken for cleaning staff. On many occasions, it has felt like more than just imposter syndrome, I was treated like an intruder. Private healthcare has shown me a new level of elitism that goes beyond imposter syndrome, it is an insidious feeling of intrusion.