People gather at the Supreme Court in Washington, Saturday night, Sept. 19, 2020, to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the high court's liberal justices, and a champion of gender equality. Her death leaves a vacancy that could be filled with a more conservative justice by President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Supreme Court Vacancy
People gather at the Supreme Court in Washington, Saturday night, Sept. 19, 2020, to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the high court's liberal justices, and a champion of gender equality. Her death leaves a vacancy that could be filled with a more conservative justice by President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A North Carolina cancer survivor explains why the president and Sen. Thom Tillis can’t be allowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice that will overturn the health care law.

Like so many North Carolina families, my husband and I were caught up in the economic downturn of 2008. My husband lost his upper management job in a large company, and our health insurance was the first casualty for us. 

I had been healthy all my life, so I didn’t think much of having to postpone some regular check-ins, x-rays and medical evaluations for an extra year or two. Once the Affordable Care Act was passed, my husband and I qualified to purchase insurance through the marketplace so we were able to get health coverage again after several years of being uninsured. 

I was finally able to schedule the appointments I had been putting off, and the first ones I went in for were a colonoscopy and my mammogram. After my colonoscopy, my doctor told me he was almost certain I had colon cancer, and sure enough, it was stage three. 

RELATED: Tillis’ SCOTUS Vote Could Deny Health Insurance to Millions. Here’s What He Had to Say During Tuesday’s Debate.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Affordable Care Act saved my life. If it weren’t for the coverage I gained through the ACA, I never would have known about the disease that was spreading through my body. 

And if not for that coverage, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the $8,000 cost of every one of my chemotherapy treatments I received every two weeks for six months. 

I know there are countless North Carolinians and millions of other Americans whose stories are just like mine. Here in North Carolina alone almost 5 million people have a pre-existing condition while hundreds of thousands of others have been able to purchase insurance for the first time because of this law. We owe our health and financial security to the Affordable Care Act, and right now, that law has never been in greater jeopardy. 

There is a cruel irony in the fact that Donald Trump will travel to my home of Charlotte today to talk about health care. Perhaps the only consistent position Donald Trump has always held is his commitment to dismantling the ACA, throwing people like me into financial and medical uncertainty. 

Sen. Thom Tillis, President Donald Trump
Sen. Thom Tillis and President Trump at a rally in Charlotte in March 2020. Tillis’ vote for Trump’s potential US Supreme Court nominee could have major implications for healthcare in North Carolina. (Image via Shutterstock)

With control of Congress, the White House and now the Supreme Court all on the line in the next 40 days, Donald Trump and the Republicans have made it clear that they won’t stop fighting to undo the ACA and rip away the coverage and health protections that so many Americans like myself depend on. 

It’s hard for me to understand how Trump and his Republican allies like Senator Thom Tillis can be so committed to such a heartless position that will put lives at risk. 

Especially as we continue to combat a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 200,000 Americans, the notion of working to strip away peoples’ health coverage is not just illogical — it’s downright cruel. 

North Carolinians have a clear choice in this election. As we mail in our ballots or head to the polls, we all must vote as if there are lives on the line, because there are. 

Donald Trump has pledged to do everything he can to eliminate the ACA and the various protections it provides to millions of North Carolinians. And while his promises usually don’t mean much, this time, I think we should take him at his word.