No one should have to choose between food and medicine. For many low-income people with chronic illnesses, however, it's a decision far too familiar.

Seth Berkowitz, a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, recalls a woman — a mother — who ended up in the hospital with dangerously high blood pressure. The woman had a prescription for a medication to keep her blood pressure down, but she hadn't filled it because it was nearing the end of the school year and her kids' final tests were coming up. Faced with the option of paying for a prescription she needed or making sure her kids weren’t going into their tests hungry, she chose to feed her kids.

This is not an uncommon dilemma. When Berkowitz conducted a study on the subject back in 2014, he discovered that a third of the chronically ill patients he saw couldn't afford both food and medication.

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Heroes

I have a mental disorder. This is what happened when I tried to buy a gun.

How does buying a gun actually compare to getting psychiatric treatment? I decided to find out for myself.

It’s 7 a.m., and a police officer stops me at the gate of the only road that leads to Moon Island.

She asks me for my pass, which I scramble to retrieve from my messenger bag in the backseat of the car. Moon Island is a restricted property controlled by the city of Boston, even though it’s technically in the city of Quincy. But this is hardly the most bizarre or confusing part about my day. Because Moon Island is also the location of the Boston Police shooting range, and I’m here to take a target test so I can get my gun permit.

The officer furrows her brow as she checks my range pass, and I wonder if it’s that obvious that I’ve never actually shot a real gun before in my life.

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