Head over to Dream Big Dream Often. Lots of great reading material there!
I can’t imagine what it must be like to tell someone, ‘you have cancer’. I know what it’s like to find out a family member has it. I also know what it’s like to hear those words spoken directly to you.
Cancer seems to be dominating my family. I’m the latest recipient its chosen to challenge. I refuse to let it remove me from this Earth. This is a battle I WILL win! I have started a program for local cancer warriors; in my sister’s name. With fighting my own battle, I admit, I haven’t done a lot with the program lately.
However, I believe my own battle with colon cancer has shown me a reason for my fight. It is utterly amazing how horrible insurance co-payments are in regards to paying for medications, doctor visits and tests. The apathy is overwhelming. It’s not like medical professionals know what patients are dealing with. Non-profit foundations, that advertise co-payment assistance are nothing short of laughable. They either refuse to assist if you have commercial insurance or funding just isn’t available. Many will only cover Medicare or the uninsured. Other programs are drug-specific and if you have a unpopular cancer, then your chances for assistance decline even further.
I have decided, once I beat my cancer, I will be diligently working on making the Kathi Cares Program a nonprofit. The focus will still be supporting local cancer warriors. However, the primary focus will shift to aiding those who need monetary assistance with prescription (and care) co-payments.
I want the assistance to be available almost immediately versus putting the applicant through weeks’ worth of waiting and worry on how they are going to cover the necessary medication or office visits.
If this is the reason I was destined to go through my own cancer battle, then challenge accepted. I struggle with the ability to afford my own treatment. I do have a fundraiser to aid in that. I am too young for my cancer (as I am repeatedly told), but I have yet to find funding to assist me. This is my only option, until I can get another job to help me pay for my treatment.
I will beat this and then I will help those who are experiencing what I am dealing with. Together, we can make a difference. Together we are a community.
This is not the easiest post and it doesn’t have anything to do with the status of my diagnosis.
The last couple weeks have been tough. I had to change my insurance plan, at work, and elected the “gold” versus the “silver” plan, in order to get rid of the annual deductible and bring down the usage fees when I see the doctor or get labs. It also raised my weekly contribution costs, but it had to be done.
Unfortunately, with this plan change, came with a carrier change. I joined the Sutter Health network and am sad to report they choose to charge patients a 20% copay for chemo medication, where other plans cover it 100% or charge a max of $50/prescription. Hopefully, one day they realize how punitive this is and begin to cover oral chemotherapy pills as effectively as they do IV chemotherapy.
I left a plan where I was receiving negligent care and now I have a decent oncologist, but can’t afford an additional $300; every three weeks. That includes the cost of the doctor visit, blood work and the expensive medication copays. If I give up the ability to work (which eventually puts my job in jeopardy), submit to another surgery for a port, start IV medications, lose my independence, risk permanent side effects and not provide for my family, then the medication would be covered 100%. Riddle me this…oral chemo is cheaper than IV treatment, but the insurance refuses to cover it 100. Why? Never mind; I digress.
After numerous breakdowns, I conceded I had to ask for help. I have had to resort to something I really hate doing. I know fundraisers have helped many people and I have donated to those in need. I was brought up that you work hard and support yourself.
I have followed the proper channels to ask for medication assistance. It appears I was diagnosed at the wrong time of the year. Nonprofit sources run out of money to help with prescriptions by the end of the year; that’s if they even acknowledge your disease. Again, not all cancers are pink, but that’s where the funding is.
I have applied for part-time jobs. I already work a full-time job, but need something to pay for my medication; even if it means working seven days a week. I still am waiting for someone to hire me. Problem is, I’m overqualified for the minimum wage jobs, even though I am willing to work weekends.
I have managed to get enough donations for another round of chemo. However, I now have two weeks to raise enough money for the next round. My pride is temporarily on a shelf and I have to post a link to my fundraiser.
If you are able to donate, even a $1.00, I would appreciate it. If you are able to share either via blog or on your FaceBook page, that’s appreciated. I plan on removing the fundraiser if I am hired or if some non-profit is available to help.
I apologize for having to post the link; but if I don’t raise the $300, in the next two weeks, my chemo treatment stops. Please take a moment to read the fundraiser and if you don’t mind, share it where you can.
Years ago, a friend told me about a practice of picking a new word to represent you through the upcoming year. Face it, resolutions are great for a few weeks and then our true nature breaks through and we revert back to our old habits. Ok, a few people stick with them, but the majority doesn’t.
I was one of those people. State your resolution, post how great you’re doing and then the topic suddenly stops coming up. That’s why I love picking a word to represent me. I honestly reflect on previous years. What has happened, how I handled things, who came into or left my life, etc.
- 2015: Perseverance
- 2016: Genesis
- 2017: Influence
All these words turned out to be extremely relative for the year they represent. With the new year only a few weeks away, it’s time to make the word selection that I will take into 2018. After careful consideration, the word I choose is,
In 2017, there have been new influences on how I view life. I have met some AMAZING people this year. I have received tremendous support. I have reflected on my life, up to this point and time. What does it come down to? Living a simple life. I have everything I need (except a cure).
Life really doesn’t need to be as complicated as we make it. I am as guilty of this as the next person. Simplifying how I choose to live will help declutter my mind and my life. A better devotion to Christ, realizing how important family is, having friends that support you are simple ways to have a very rich life.
There you have it: A SIMPLE recipe for the upcoming year.
Will you join me in selecting a word instead of making a resolution that you may or may not see through? Please comment with your word if this inspires you to follow suit.
I met with a new oncologist yesterday. Truth be told, I had several mini-meltdowns, at work no-less, trying to get an emergency referral to this new doctor. I’m on my “off” week for my chemo-cycle and needed the referral, be seen and have the medication ordered and delivered, by today, in order to stay on track.
Prayers were definitely answered. If you have followed up to now, you know I have received less-than-stellar care for my cancer. To the point, the doctors should be sued. Yea, it was that bad.
I walk into this new office; very apprehensive. Very nice office staff. They pointed out coffee and tea were available, if I wanted some. Coffee? That HAS to be a sign! The computer system wasn’t cooperating, and the staff was apologizing to me for the wait and having to switch rooms. Respect? I’m not used that. Such a simple thing, yet so many people no longer offer common courtesies.
Then I met the doctor. She genuinely seemed concerned. Part of the reason is because I’m technically too young to have colon cancer; without a family history of it. I told her, what I have told a handful of doctors, there has been a lot of different cancer in my immediate family. She took note of it. Then mentioned something no one else has: Lynch Syndrome. She thinks I may have this. From what I have read on the syndrome, it would explain the cancer in my paternal grandmother, my father and my 37-year old sister, and of course, now me.
I have previously declined genetic testing because two previous doctors were focusing on my risk of breast cancer. They failed to elaborate when I didn’t see a need for it. Based on other family member’s testing, I am almost certain I have an increased risk of breast cancer. I didn’t need a test to confirm that.
My new oncologist pointed out, if I had Lynch syndrome, it’s more than just treating me; it could affect my children. They would have a 50% chance of having the gene that causes the syndrome, thereby increasing their risk of certain cancers.
I am extremely grateful and blessed that I have been assigned to an empathetic, compassionate and caring physician. This is how healthcare should be. It shouldn’t be getting patients in and out in record time with minimal information. Communication is so crucial, yet, often downplayed because too many doctors have their routine and expect patients to conform to it.
Toward the end of the appointment, she said, “you have five children and you need to live.” That almost brought me to tears. My chemo has been pushed out (more cycles added). Extra testing has been ordered. Vitamin D has been added to my daily dose of pill consumption. There will be a PET scan and other testing once all the chemo has been concluded.
Overall, my prayers and those praying for me have been answered. Prayers are still needed (and welcomed) as this battle is far from over. At least now I feel like I have a fighting chance.
Love sharing blog posts. You get to read, and maybe even follow, some new blogs!
As most of my followers know I am big into helping other bloggers gain more exposure. My goal has been to grow a community of like-minded people and I am part way to my goal. I am bringing back the open call to leave a link and I’ll share it for you!!
The basic rules are simple: leave me a link to your page. I’m not sure it gets much simpler. You can leave as many links as you want and I’ll cycle this post from day-to-day so more people can jump on board. The link post I’ll create will publish on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.
I make my own coffee every morning. There are days I like to treat myself. Being in Northern California, there is an amazing coffee company called Dutch Bros. If you’ve never heard of them, or worse yet, haven’t tried their coffee, you’re truly missing out!
There is a Dutch Bros. near my office (about 5 minutes away). What sets this coffee stand apart from the (self-dubbed), ‘Evil Empire (the coffee joint that must not be name – but has a celestial sign + a word meaning money), is it’s product and staff.
While, you can’t go inside, sit down at a table and suck up free Wi-Fi, you can order at the walk-up window or pull up to one of two drive-thrus. There you can order an assortment of coffees, teas and blended drinks.
As a coffee purist (also self-dubbed), if you’re among the few people who don’t need coffee for survival, please wait to order your blended, non-caffeinated drinks til after 9:00 a.m. Those of use who need that hot cup of coffee thank you in advance. Sorry…I digressed there for a moment.
Anywho…with the chemo meds zapping every bit of energy I have and continuing to work full-time, I have been relying on lots of caffeine boosts from Dutch Bros. Since it’s the Christmas season, the Caramel Eggnog latte is my favorite. Add a bit of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon and you’re in eggnog heaven.
If I can’t get my eggnog, I go for a Carmelizer or 9-1-1. The days that I am completely exhausted, are my 9-1-1 days. Who couldn’t use 6 shots of espresso? Calm down…it’s not that bad…everyone knows espresso has the least amount of caffeine. Six shots is just the right amount of extra boost.
I would say 99% of my Dutch Bros experience comes from the Dixon, CA location. When I’m not at work, I will occasionally stop by the Fairfield, CA location. Soon, Vacaville, CA will have a location open. Can’t wait!!!!
Don’t forget to get a stamp card. Every 10 purchases gets you a free drink! If you buy a reusable cup (I have 3) from them, you get a free drink. It also saves you $0.25 on each purchase when you bring the cup in.
When my 11-year old daughter would commute with me, I would have to hide my stamp card. She would count the card to see if there was an odd number or see if it was almost filled when she knew it should be almost empty. Why was she checking? She wanted to know when I got the yummy Dutch Bros. treat and she didn’t. If she caught me, I would have to take her to get her Chocolate Frost. I stopped letting her look at the card; she was costing me a fortune. LOL
I will gladly take Dutch Bros. gift cards for all birthdays, holidays and thank-yous. Honestly, I can’t thank them enough because they are a beacon of good coffee, pleasant employees and fun during my cancer journey.
Recently, we were able to get a Dutch Bros. ornament with the purchase of a large, hot beverage. Well, obviously that meant we needed make a stop and have one of these ornaments for our tree. Who could resist a deal like that, right?
How can you not like a place like this. Seriously, try out Dutch Bros. if they are anywhere near you. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t appreciate the energy this company offers along with some pretty good coffee.