January 6, 2020

October 2019 2nd AC Chemo Treatment,Costs and Politics

Follow-up to 1st AC Treatment and Neulasta

Before I can write about the 2nd AC Chemo treatment I need to talk about the Neulasta patch.  I'll have to some research on Neulasta because it is WORST than chemo. The next morning after the patch activated I could hardly move.  

I could hardly get out of bed.  Every muscle in the core of my body hurt.  If I moved it hurt. The next day about the same, it hurt to move.  Between the Chemo, Neulasta, Nausea medication it was a two week hell ride. I learned that not all Chemo drugs are the same. 

Doctor's Appointment

So, you have to go to a doctor's appointment between treatments.

The doctor was unavailable so I saw the nurse and went though the process of explaining how things were going. It feels like a check the box type of thing, but I am focusing on being kind during this process.  Just be kind and be aware of how difficult that can be at times.  Just go and be kind to everyone you meet that is my mantra.

2nd AC Chemo Treatment

I'm almost certain that I would NOT have made it this far through Chemo without my Chemo nurse Brenda.  I mean since the first call though every treatment Brenda (and I realize that I don't know Brenda's last name) has been a God-send.

She has given me so many tips that have worked for me. She told me to have a Chemo outfit/Chemo shirt.  I went out and brought two Chemo shirts and alternate between those two shirts.  She told me how to combat nausea and get ahead of it.  It's been challenging and I hate the medicine I have to take in order to want to eat but it has worked.

So...when I told Brenda about my experience with the Neulasta patch and being immobile she gave me this really serious look and said matter of factly that we would NOT do the patch, but I would come back in the next day and get a shot that was half the dosage.  I should be able to move.  I was over medicated and we need to correct that.  I just look at Brenda and know she's looking out for me and knows what she's talking about.

As I'm telling Brenda about my Neulasta patch experience a lady who has been battling Stage 4 cancer for 9 years (!) and in the chemo lounger across from me is telling me her story of how the cancer keeps coming back in different parts of her body and how she REFUSED to get the Neulasta patch because it was worse than Chemo. I'm listening to her and I know it's an option to buck the system but I  do trust Brenda and talk to Brenda about coming back in the next day.

I meet new people every time I go to Chemo and some of them have Stage 4 cancer.

The lady I was mostly listening to and asking her questions told me that she deals with her cancer by PARTYING. She parties all the time she says.  She's been dying for 9 years now and is not dead because she believes that partying has helped her.  She said her husband died of brain cancer a few years ago.  They would go to Chemo treatment appointments together.  She's battling his medical bills and trying to get the hospital to abate them. (More about medical bills later.)

I also met a man who had a biblical name (I can't remember it now) and he had stage 4 cancer and had been diagnosed earlier this year.  He looked nervous about all of this and was just listening then he started to share his story.  His phone ran and he said "look you call me all the time I have Stage 4 cancer and I'm not interested.".  I get that!  His Asian  wife looked embarrassed that he said that but all of us sitting down in those chairs hooked up to cancer treatment drugs understood where he was coming from.  Penny-ante stuff doesn't matter anymore.

The Cost of Cancer Treatment

As of October 23, 2019 there have been 64 insurance claims (64!!!) and $200K in claim dollars.  In other words a person who did not have health insurance would owe $200K and this is BEFORE surgery which I can only imagine how much that will cost.  The $200K was not paid by the insurance company because of their deals with the providers.  Insurance has paid $30K for my treatment and I have paid (or will pay once I'm billed) $10K.

So...who has $200K lying around? For that matter who has $10K lying around?  How does an everyday person PAY for CANCER TREATMENT?  These cost are OUTRAGEOUS! Not only do you have to have insurance BUT you have to have a pocket of money available to pay the out-of-pockets. We have to do something about medical costs, bills and insurance.  It is NOT enough that everyone is insured.  THAT is not the answer!  As you can see even if you are insured you still need $10K in the bank.

So...I went to find out more about insurance and started reading more about it and watching videos.  I want to understand how the insurance industry works, then look for solutions to this problem.

Politics and Thinking about my Life after Cancer

So, of course I'll go back to work and get into a routine.  I just want that first.  Just that feeling of going though a daily routine.

I watched the latest armed services committee meetings relating to shipbuilding.  The  new Representative Elaine Luria knew the questions to ask and did not let up on the Admiral or Secretary.  Before she started asking question it was just proforma type of questions.  It was actually pretty fascinating.

Before cancer it was just go through the motions, get through the day, do the paperwork, go to the meetings, solve the problems and come up with solutions but now I feel more like I want to really plug into all. Understand it fully. Be engaged. So that is first just get back into the routine of work, working and making it great for those I work with.  Really focus on what will make it a great work environment.  Not what it is, but what could and should it be?

Then...figure out about the shop.  Do I keep renting the building?  Do I buy the building?  Do I walk away?  I'm hoping the next several months it will come to me what I need to do so by the beginning of the year I will have a good answer.

Then...cancer advocacy.  How do I give back?  What role will I take?  How involved will I be?

Then...how do I fully utilize all the experiences and interests that I have?  I've had a lot of time to think about my career experiences and folks I've met along the way. I keep thinking how do I blend everything to a culmination of sorts.

I'm thinking it is politics but I'm not a politician.  I don't even like politicians. I think of them as  do nothings.  I mean do nothings for the people but do everything for themselves. Somehow they end up getting rich and well taken care of while nothing changes for the people.

I don't even like office politics, it's like checkers to me. I can see though it to the end results.   I look at folks along my career and think about the politics and how juvenile it was.  I felt like I was above that crap. I still do.  I really do now after going though this cancer stuff.   However, I think government politics and making decisions about where the resources come from and goes to is important.

I think making my hometown community better is important. 

I'm thinking every day is a bonus day and everyday counts.  The breast cancer lump could have taken me and might still. If it doesn't good, but it could come back and take me so every day I'm alive is a bonus day and I should do something to make it all count.

I should use my incredible experiences to really make a difference.

Just be myself.  Listen and ask questions.  I'm considering it politics. I ran and won for Senior Class Treasurer.  I remember the sponsor didn't want me to win.  She didn't like me.  That gave me incentive to win and just stare at her to let her know "sorry but you don't get to decide my future". I think of that sometimes and think I could run.  I could win.  I could make a difference. 

Below are my many experiences and interests:
  • Law Enforcement - Policing
  • Defense Industry
  • Insurance Industry
  • Real Estate Industry
  • Financial Services Industry -Credit Unions
  • Education "Business" 
  • Arts, Crafts and Culture
  • Public Libraries
  • Small Business Ownership and Management
  • Workplace Wellness
  • Mental Health
  • Medical Bills
  • Cancer Research and Treatment
  • Politics
  • Black American Political Issues 
  • Universal Basic Income
  • Purchasing Profession
  • Learning and Development Profession

Time will tell...