Tampa Bay area 12-year-old urges Congress to keep Medicaid for kids

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After surviving multiple surgeries, aggressive chemotherapy and daily radiation treatment, a Tampa Bay area 12-year-old is now on her way to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to keep Medicaid for children.

“Without Medicaid or without any of this I wouldn’t be able to be here and this wouldn’t happen,” said Natalia Ricabal as she sat in her wheelchair waiting to board her flight to Washington, D.C. at Tampa International Airport.

When she was eight years old, Natalia was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma.

“I actually thought it was a boil in her leg, the lump. And when they said it was cancer I was terrorized. I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it. It was a numbing effect really,” said Natalia’s mom Amy.

This year, she was picked by St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital to go to our nation’s capital and tell Congress how Medicaid saved her life. Before she boarded, she talked about how the disease has left her in a lot of pain.

“It was a lot of pain and the worst was in my leg and I couldn’t do anything,” she said. “I would just have to lay in bed and it was a lot of pain and I couldn’t really handle it.”

Natalia’s trip is part of Family Advocacy Day. She will join nearly 50 other pediatric patients from across the United States in an effort to convince Congress to keep Medicaid for kids.

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