Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Throwback Tuesday - The Country of Cancer

Back in 2011, I wrote the following blog post.  Both the people I blogged about below have since passed away due to their cancers.  One, a childhood friend, would have turned 65 yesterday.
In her honor, I repeat the blog post I wrote after she called me to tell me of her diagnosis.

I rarely write political posts, but I felt this was appropriate this week, as the Senate ponders major changes in health care.

She loved her roses so much, I will add one to this blog post in memory of her.

The Country of Cancer

This has not been a good few weeks for a couple of people I know.

Without going into any kind of specifics, in the past week, I have found out that a friend I have had since childhood, and someone I've known locally for a number of years, have cancer.  In one instance, the "patient" knows the cancer will be fatal - the question is when.  For the other person, that "patient" is in the middle of testing to find out the exact details. The question for that person will be if it was found early enough because that cancer does not have a high survival rate. 

Both of these people are highly educated - one has a masters degree. The other worked at one time in the medical field.  Both are taxpayers.

One is a reader of this blog.

I do not like to get political in this blog, but I am going to make an exception today. And I am going to run a bit longer than I normally do.  Please bear with me.

It takes a village to support someone with cancer, and our country is doing a horrible job of it.

You can have the best of insurance and still find yourself in the position of trying to pay overwhelming medical bills.  If you don't have "Cadillac" insurance, that old Buick insurance isn't going to get you very far.

What your caretaker(s) are going to end up with is an overwhelming pile of paperwork.  There are programs to help pay the bills out there, and those programs are going to require everything short of your firstborn son.  I'm not talking government programs here necessarily - I am talking nonprofit programs for co-pay relief, charities, programs run by the pharmaceutical company, programs run (perhaps) by where you are receiving treatment.

Government?  Well - there's the Department of Health and Human Services and Social Security, too. (and some people want to abolish them, don't they?) There's Medicare.  Just as a reminder, Medicare is a program of our Federal Government.

Need assistance?  You'd better have your income tax returns, your insurance card(s), your checking account statements, your savings account statements, your pay stubs, and about 50 or so other things (or so it will seem), all at the ready.  Make lots of copies because you are going to need them.  Stock up on stamps.  Hope you have a decent computer, and lots of time on your hands when you don't feel like absolute crud.

The caretaker and the cancer patient must struggle to pay those bills while juggling (maybe) a job, (definitely) either chemo, radiation, or both, and lots of issues.  Sounds like a job for the son or daughter of Superman.  If they are only human, and fallible, they are in trouble.  Do you know any of the children of Superman?  I don't.

Suddenly a caretaker?  There are federal job protections but we know how that can work, depending on how decent your employer is.  Cynical?  I personally know someone who was a caretaker for her father, and lost her job because of it.  The person wasn't a resident of New York State but she could have been. It does happen. 

We have a seriously broken system. We expect people to do all these things while fighting a dread illness.  Fighting that illness should be the first priority.  Financing that struggle should not be part of it.

But too many times, it is.

It hurts, but in our holiday season, it hurts more.  In an area recovering from a natural disaster like we are here in upstate NY, it hurts even more.

In the United States, we call ourselves "the greatest country in the world".

But, they and the people who care for them can rant all they want, but that cancer patient and his/her family needs help and ranting won't (so to speak) pay the rent.

So they will buckle down like so many others have done before them,  and walk that path of nails.  If they are lucky they will have a lot of support of family and friends.  But not everyone has that.  There are too many cracks to fall through for the citizens of this "greatest country of the world".

Become politically active, you say? It's hard to advocate for change when you are in a survival situation.

Observe it well.  Educate yourself.  Unless things change, the next time this dread disease knocks, one of us bystanders may be answering that door.

So sad that this is just as true in July of 2017 as it was in November of 2011.


  1. Thanks Alana. Unfortunately what you say is true. I live in South Africa, and I was a member of what we call a Medical Aid scheme, but we had similar situations where we had to insist on our rights at a time when neither of us felt up to it.
    Increase your antioxidants the easy way.

  2. As a former medical professional and then a politician, I can tell you that with an aging population, medical costs will continue to skyrocket. We all want to live to be 100, even though most folks did not save enough money to live that long. Personally, I do not want to be a burden to my children, nor do I want my estate to go to pay doctor bills for a life that is marginally tolerable. There are all sorts of assisted living centers in my community and the cost of living there is staggering. Folks think I am cold-hearted when I talk about it, but if my life is just me in a chair with lots of memories, or hooked up to machines, I'd rather be ashes scattered in my garden. Oh, I could go on, but I will stop.

  3. And,now it is proposed to shed the bulk of our research efforts at NIH and NSF. SO,new therapies will never see the light of day.

  4. This IS true. And so much stress associated with it. Like they really need more stress in their lives. This is part of what drove me to start my business and develop products and services to support folks who are sick, ahealingspirit.org Sigh. /Carol

  5. I'm so sorry to hear about your friends. About anyone who has to suffer twice.
    Again, I'm so grateful I live in Canada! I love our healthcare system. That great bulwark against the pain of treatment!

  6. I, too, am sorry for the loss of your friends. Just last weekend I attended a memorial service for a lifetime friend who battled lung cancer for five years. Even with good insurance and financial stability the toll on ones life savings, family support systems and caregivers is astronomical. Beautiful rose for your friend...may she rest in peace.

  7. I have a friend going through all this red tape now. It's not cancer, but her husband has been seriously ill and along with the caregiving, doctor's appointments, and stress, she's had to deal with medicare, medicaid, disability and those situations change daily. Heartbreaking to watch.

  8. My senator was asking for health care stories that she could retweet today. Our health care system needs help, but that's not what the Senate is doing... I'm not going to rant.

    I'm so sorry you lost both your friends. Cancer sucks. (Lost two grandparents to it.)

  9. I was so very very fortunate to be working for a company that has good solid insurance options as part of the benefits when I found my lump. My head would spin looking at the reports of what the insurance company had covered. Can't imagine how much more frightening my cancer episode would have been without that good coverage.


Your comments sustain me, as long as they are civil, are on topic, and do not contain profanity, advertising of any kind, links or spam. Any messages not meeting these criteria will immediately be composted, and my flowers will enjoy their contents.