June 5th, 2009
09:44 AM ET

Update: Man who couldn’t get insurance loses cancer battle

By John Bonifield
CNN Medical Producer

In the spring of 2008, CNN reported the story of Mark Windsor, a cancer patient who was dying for lack of insurance. Windsor passed away Monday after a 26-year battle with chondrosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. He was 53 years old.

"After 16 major surgeries, radiation treatments and chemo treatments, the medical profession did not have the skill, or in too many cases, the desire to work with him further," said Windsor's brother, Allen Windsor, in a statement. "Mark believed, as he stated twice on CNN, money was the biggest factor in his untimely passing. Had he received the treatments he needed timely over the many years, his type of cancer could have been controlled for a longer time span."

In the months leading up to Windsor's death, he said in e-mails that he would have liked to live longer.

"I couldn't get benefits I needed at any price until it was too late," Windsor said. "Life could have been so beautiful."

Capturing the beauty of life was Windsor's initial hope. When Windsor was just 27, doctors removed a large, cancerous tumor from his neck. Windsor thought he was cured. A few years later, he had a wrenching choice to make: pursue his dream to become a photographer and leave a good job with company-paid health insurance, or stay and stay insured.

Windsor followed his passions. He never anticipated that the cancer would return. When it did, Windsor was uninsurable.

"I wish I would have seen all this coming. I just never figured I would be turned away from health care with tumors on my spinal cord, " Windsor said. "I think I served my country well during this short life."

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