January 4, 2020

August 12th 6th Chemo Treatment, Medical Bills, Doctors Appointment and Call From Nurse Navigator

6th Chemo Treatment 

My blood pressure was still high this week. Back to trying to figure out why "white coat syndrome" has roared it's head again.

Some new folks were in the pod, giving blood and getting infusions.

Some regulars were not there...I wondered why and where they were.

Medical Bills

Well, I finally decided I had to deal with the medical bills, go on line and look at the Anthem Statement of Benefits and give Anthem a call.  So far the bills add to $107,000.  Yep, you read that right.  I owed $7,700 of that with $3,300 due to Sentara Williamsburg for the biopsy...what???? Something that Anthem agreed to pay called a "facility fee".  Ridiculous.  How is it that you can not be able to afford to pay these medical bills even WITH insurance?  How can insurance agree to pay these outrageous amounts for medical services?  How can you get a service and not know the cost?  So many questions about the medical insurance industry.

So I wrote all the checks for the bills I had EXCEPT the $3,300 for the "facility fee".  I have to make some phone calls about that. Then I looked at all of my breast cancer "resources" to see if there was anything out there for medical bills help.  Yes, there is if you are considered in "poverty" and can't pay. Really how many middle class people have $3,300 around to give a hospital for a "facility fee" for a biopsy.

I am really appalled at this whole process.  ALL of the chemo "treatments"  needed based on "clinical trials"; the outrageous cost of these treatments and doctors visits.  It is all so ridiculous!  It feels like a crime actually.  I'm looking at this thinking is it ALL ABOUT THE MONEY? They know they got you because the alternative is that you die.  So what are you going to do?  Go through this long  process of weekly treatments, being out of work, sicker than you should have to be...and this is going to go on for MONTHS.

It's sort of unbelievable that this has become acceptable...it is not acceptable.  All I keep thinking is the reason it continues is because if you survive the process and can return to your "normal" life you try your best to FORGET this and you move on...nothing changes with the process...NEXT Cancer Patient...I need to challenge myself not to FORGET and do something...at a minimum to release my blog posts documenting this process.

Doctor's Appointment

The oncologist wants to see me every three weeks.

I'm still going through this process of doing everything they are asking me to do...I want to see exactly what the process is and document the experience.

I get to my appointment 15 minutes early.  I wait 30 minutes.  An elderly (80-90 yrs old) lady came in, checked in and told the receptionist that she did not feel well and wanted to see the doctor right away.  Her doctor was my doctor.  10 minutes later they called the elderly lady back. 10 more minutes they call me back and the doctor's nurse comes in and asks if it's okay for her to see me because the doctor was running behind. What do you say to that?  I say "yes, okay", but I'm thinking "no, but what choice do I have?".  

She goes through all of the questions about side effects.  Then I tell her that the tumor had almost gone away, I couldn't really feel it anymore. She examines me and agrees.  This doesn't seem to really matter though. I ask her about the second round of the new drugs which weren't on my schedule. (When you start the process they give you a calendar of Chemo appointments.)  She's not sure of that and starts reading the doctor's notes...this takes  a while and she says yes she thinks I have to go though that round too.

Then I ask her what determines if I'll need radiation and she says oh, it depends on the surgery results but then asked if I wanted to see a radiologist.  I look at her like she is crazy and say "no I don't".  Who in their right mind would WANT to see ANOTHER doctor and to prolong this madness.  I was just trying to find out the process.

Then I realize that I will choose not to agree to meet with her again if  I can help it. I liked her, but I don't have time for paying for a service  AND feeling like someone doesn't have the answers.

I made another 3 week appointment.  The appointment person asked if I wanted to meet with the doctor's assistant again.  I say "No. I would like to see the doctor".

Nurse Navigator:

She called and left a message for me to call her back when I got her message. It seems to me this is just one more thing in this process that you have to do. I get the feeling she has a list of breast cancer women to call/keep track of and she is going down her list and touching base with "xyz" on a monthly basis.

I'm thinking down the road this might be helpful.  I'm thinking maybe people who need lots of support need this but it's stressful to me to have to call someone back AS SOON AS I GET THE MESSAGE.  Who has time for this? I don't see the point of this person in the process. She is a nice and helpful person...but I'm too much of a practical person for this...but I call back because I am going through the entire process (not without questioning it, but I'm doing what is asked of me).

Another week down is how I feel...then I think someone will read this years from now who is going though cancer and it will help them.  I hope so because it is liking walking in a dark dank tunnel and everyone is telling you that you are going to be okay...but you don't see any light anywhere...hopeful this is a little flashlight of information.