July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Medina Twp. woman whose letter read by President Obama visits Oval Office

Natoma Canfield finally got to see her letter to President Barack Obama hanging on the wall of the Oval Office.

Canfield, 53, of Medina Township, put a face on the national health care debate three years ago when the president read her letter at a press briefing.

President Barack Obama speaks to Natoma Canfield, of Medina Township, right, and her sister, Connie Anderson, on Wednesday in the Oval Office. The letter Canfield sent the president in 2009 hangs on the wall in the background. (WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA)

In the letter, she said that because she fought breast cancer in the 1990s, her pre-existing condition meant she no longer could afford her health insurance premiums. Just months after she sent the letter, Canfield was diagnosed with leukemia.

Obama also cited Canfield in a speech after the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Canfield met Obama at a July campaign event in Parma, and he invited her to the White House.

She took him up on the offer Wednesday.

“It was amazing to get to meet with the president — very exciting, just very humbling. He’s such a wonderful person,” she said.

Her 2009 letter urged Obama to reform the health care system.

Obama responded personally to Canfield’s 2009 letter.

“It’s because of folks like you that we are still figuring to get health care done,” he wrote.

The president’s note is framed on a wall in Canfield’s home.

Canfield is now in remission, and she has physical therapy daily. Her health care is now covered by Medicare, she said.

Canfield and her sister, Connie Anderson, met with Obama briefly in the Oval Office and attended a White House holiday reception. They passed along a message from their brother — that the family was glad Obama was re-elected.

Canfield said her only regret about the meeting is that she didn’t get to see First Lady Michelle Obama because of the crowd of people surrounding her.

Contact Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.