Tomorrow I'll bake a cake

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I'm going to have to put off baking my Valentine's Day cake until I can get back home on Friday. I have my heart-shaped pans, but the oven is broken in my new Washington apartment. Even so, I'm not letting the day pass without asking everyone for a favor.

My mother was born on Valentine's Day. From the time she turned fifteen, my father gave her a heart-shaped box of chocolates, and from the time I was nine and bought some heart-shaped pans at the dime store, I baked her a cake. Mother loved the heart connection to her birthday.

Several years ago, the heart connection took on a new meaning. My mother was in good health. She went to the doctor regularly, and, except for some concern about high cholesterol and a few complaints about gas pains and arthritis, she always got a good report. When she had some minor surgery, all the kids and grandkids came to visit. She was doing great, ready to check out of the hospital the next morning. So after a few more turns racing her up and down the hallway in wheelchairs, we all headed home.

In the middle of the night, one of my brothers called. He said Mama was dead. I couldn't believe it. I thought he had made some kind of terrible mistake. He said Daddy had been sitting with her when she leaned forward and said, "Don, there's that gas pain again." Then she died.

The autopsy showed that she had advanced heart disease. No one had any inkling.

This year more women than men will die from heart disease. In fact, every minute, a woman dies from heart disease. And the symptoms for women aren't always the same as for men. As I learned when the doctor called to explain how she died, heart disease can easily be overlooked for women.

So enjoy Valentine's Day and all the hearts, but here's my ask: Today please ask a woman you love to learn more about heart disease. Learn the symptoms. Learn the risks. Learn prevention. Please don't wait.

Tomorrow I'll bake a cake. I'll open up the box that has some of the old valentines my daddy gave to my mother. And I'll ask the women I love to take better care of themselves.

Happy Valentine's Day!

What Republicans want to take away

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Elizabeth had an op-ed printed in the MetroWest Daily News today, explaining why it's so important for Massachusetts residents to keep the Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare").

She wrote:

The Affordable Care Act is already helping families in the Commonwealth. Together, these reforms make families safer. Better health care coverage means more people will get preventive care — and that means catching serious problems earlier when outcomes are better and treatments are cheaper. Better health care coverage also means that when someone receives a bad diagnosis, the family won’t be crushed financially. And helping small businesses pay for health care premiums also means that they can compete against bigger businesses on a more level playing field.

Scott Brown: "Obamacare is bad law"

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Scott Brown doesn't spend a lot of time talking about the issues.

But he is very clear on one position: Scott Brown wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

When Scott Brown ran in the special election in 2010, he promised to be the 41st vote against health care reform. And he's still promising to repeal it.

Take a look at his website:

Scott Brown -  "Repeal Obamacare"

The Affordable Care Act isn't about politics. It's about making sure people with cancer or heart disease can get health insurance. It's about stopping discrimination against women and people with pre-existing conditions. It's about ending lifetime insurance caps, and closing the donut hole for seniors' prescription drugs.

Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care.

So tell us, Senator Brown:

  • Why do you want to repeal a law that closes the donut hole so seniors can afford prescription drugs?
  • Why do you want to repeal a law that lets young people stay on their parents' insurance until age 26?
  • Why do you want to repeal a law that gives tax breaks to small businesses who provide health care to their employees?
  • And why do you want to repeal a law that prevents insurance companies from discriminating against women?

Massachusetts led the way in health reform, and we will continue to lead to reduce health care costs and ensure a level playing field for middle class families -- whether Scott Brown likes it or not.