Imagine this: A terrible accident. A horrific diagnosis. A lifetime sentence of needles, medicine or expensive medical equipment. Even worse, a terminal illness.
These are the terrifying possibilities that may affect a friend, neighbor, a loved one -- even you. Every one of us is touched by devastating illnesses and conditions such as juvenile diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, Lou Gehrig's disease and auto-immune diseases.
For many of us, the best hope lies in stem cell research. But we need to explore all avenues of stem cell research -- from adult to embryonic stem cells.
That currently can't happen in Michigan, which is one of only five states that have the most severe restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. That's why it is important on Nov. 4 to approve Proposal 2.
My life took a gut-wrenching turn when I was 14 and diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, a little-understood illness that destroys the gastrointestinal system. There's no cure for it. The only treatment available to me is a regimen of regular surgeries and the steady removal of pieces of me.
Almost 15 years after my diagnosis, I'm missing entire portions of my body, including my colon and rectum. To stay alive and function, I spend $300 every month in ostomy supplies, among a long laundry list of needs that I'll live with for the rest of my life.
If I were to have children -- something I want -- I may pass this terrible disease down to them, and that's a choice that breaks my heart.
More than a million people across the nation have Crohn's. By engaging in all forms of stem cell research -- adult and embryonic -- researchers can better understand how to treat and hopefully cure patients suffering from diseases and injuries.
Unfortunately, this life-saving research can't be done in Michigan, which severely restricts embryonic stem cell research, one of the most promising areas of medical research. Under Michigan law, fertility clinics can throw away leftover unused embryos, but couples undergoing fertility treatments can't donate those embryos to researchers.
This is wrong. It shuts the door of hope to countless patients. It blocks researchers from doing work that can save lives.
Proposal 2 can change this situation.
Opponents say Proposal 2 opens the door to unregulated research. It won't. Proposal 2 is about joining the race for cures and treatments through ethical research that uses donated, leftover and unused embryos that would be thrown out anyway. It will allow couples to donate for research embryos that can't be used.
Medical researchers shouldn't be imprisoned or fined for working to save lives, and patients shouldn't be made to wait for cures and diseases because of an outdated law.
Proposal 2 will help patients, while at the same time strengthen Michigan's ban against cloning.
That's why I urge all citizens to vote "Yes" on Proposal 2 and open the door of hope for hundreds of thousands of patients in Michigan.
Julielyn Gibbons is a 28-year-old Lansing resident who has had Crohn's Disease since age 14.