Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finding an Oncologist

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Yesterday was another tough day.  I got a call in the morning from the oncology office referring me for treatment to a hospital in Richmond that “works with people who have no insurance.” She then proceeded to tell me that I would probably have to go through a fairly rigorous process but eventually I would be able to get “free treatment.”  I felt my blood vessels open and close as I immeadiately felt like I was being pushed aside.  I asked for clarification just to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding…but no I heard her right. She was saying the Dr. didn’t want to treat me because I couldn’t pay.  I informed her that having no insurance had nothing to do with not paying and in fact I do not meet the income guidelines for free care because I make TOO MUCH MONEY.  I also informed her that Ron had been laid off for 7 months – hence the insurance issue, and that our savings had been depleted as a result, but that he was back to work and that we will have insurance in November.  Also that we have every intention of paying we just need a payment plan until we can raise the cash during the interim. Also informed her that I make a very good pay check, but that I am “billable hours” and therefore need to stay local in order to work.  If I don’t work, I don’t get paid and that’s not going to help anything! She said she had “misunderstood” my circumstance and would talk to the Dr. and call me back. 
I called Ron when I hung up – I was emotional and pissed.  He stated that even if the Dr reconsidered and was willing to treat me, he didn’t want her to.  I felt the same way.  I decided to call Candace – the breast center navigator.  She had helped me find the surgeon so maybe she could help with this. 
Candace’s immediate response was concern for my having to go through this.  Her second concern was that the breast center would be perceived as not wanting to treat someone without insurance.  She also said she would call the surgeon and let him know as he referred me to the oncologist.  She also asked me to give her a chance to see if she could find an Oncologist who would work with me. 
Shortly after another woman from the Oncologist office called me – apologized for the previous call and assured me that the Doctor would certainly work with me. She also explained that the chemo treatments can be very expensive and that the pharmaceutical companies demand payment up front.  The practice is small and cannot afford to pay for the drugs.  However, I could receive the treatments at the hospital and the hospital would be willing to set me up with a payment plan.  She also told me that my office visits could be discounted 30% if I could pay at the time of the visits.  Office costs range from $350 - $500.  If I could agree to all that she would be happy to give me an appointment.  I told her that I had called Candace and I felt that I needed to wait until I talked to her before I agreed to an appointment.  She asked if I would mind if she called Candace – so I gave her the phone #. 

A short time later the woman from the oncologist office called again to say that Candace would work at getting the info for the hospital and if I were willing I could see the Doctor next Tuesday at 4:00.  I decided that getting treatment as soon as possible was more important than my pride so accepted.

When I got home, I googled the Oncologist – turns out she is pretty smart – an engineering degree from Rice University, and then went to Stanford for medical degree. Great education, comes from SF – etc… Mostly I’m just relieved to have an appointment – I’m taking it a step at a time – the financial will work out somehow.
Ron is going to be in Tampa next Tuesday so won’t be able to go with me.  Ellen will be here so she will be my second set of ears. I keep hearing the surgeon saying I need to start treatment within 3 weeks.  1 week down – 2 to go.
Had dinner with Ellen and another friend – Lebanese food in Clarendon – really good!  Had some wine – good conversation, and good food – nice break.  Woke up with a pounding headache this morning – although I slept pretty soundly.  Probably the wine?
Also had my performance review at work.  3.8 rating – close to exceeding expectations – I know Sue she rates pretty stringently so 3.8 is doing well.  She is asking me to take on more responsibility as a project lead.  I think I’m ready to do that – it is more detail work – but that is also work that you don’t have to do a lot of thinking around – plus its managing teams – I do that pretty well.  In exchange she will get be assigned as an on-site billable hour employee which will give me the ability to have my own office to do the administrative work.  I think I’m finally ready for this.
Met tonight with Heidi and Ellen – we are preparing for a leadership presentation we’ll do in September.  This is a project that has tremendous financial potential, not to mention break all 3 of us into the entrepreneur “leadership training” world.
Now that I know the cancer may have potentially spread I keep “feeling” different aches and pains and wondering if they are just the normal everyday stuff or is it the cancer – it can make you crazy!  I’ve never considered hypochondria but I think I could become one.  In order to combat the fear and craziness I’ve come up with a new mantra - 

“I am god in health, and I’m living strong, and loving life”
I’ve used “I am god in health” (the healthiest I can be) since I was in my 30’s whenever I feel a strept throat coming on – it has helped me stop it in its tracks (I haven’t had more than 1 or 2 in the last 20 years) – and that despite being “chronic” (at least 1 a month) while growing up.  The living strong is Lance Armstrong (beat testicular cancer), and loving life is focusing on what and how I want to live. I need to print it on cards and tape them in strategic places J

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