Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cancer Center Clinic Visit Tomorrow

To catch you up on the side effects from my last chemo, they were one of the worst. I sent my chemo doctor an e-mail yesterday. Here is a portion of what it said…

“Thursday and Friday were horrible, as in the Texas Chain Saw Massacre movie type terrible. The worst was a severe migraine-type headache lasting 48 hours straight that no pain medicine seemed to have the slightest impact on (I even resorted to Advil on top of extra Hydrocodone and Xanax). In addition, my temperature was 2 degrees above normal, I could not get out of bed, I had nausea, my neck tissue was tight, and I had a heavy (but not fast) heartbeat. I was in so much distress that I wanted it to all go away, no matter what. I have some stronger pain medicine left over from my prior salvage surgery in July 2006 but am afraid to take them because they give me a headache… just what I needed to add to my severe migraine. Saturday and Sunday were better, but I was still feeling beat up. Today I'm mostly recovered. By the time I see you on Wednesday I'll probably look good and have energy as if none of these side effects ever happened. But, they did and I can not see how I could tolerate them again, almost no matter how good I feel and look on Wednesday. I'm hoping we can discuss other options (if there are any) when I see you in two days.”

That was the end of the quote, but not the end of the e-mail that I sent to him.

I know this is a war with many constituents (cancer, the treatment effects, and me) and war is never easy. But in the end, all sides are weakened by the fighting and one side usually wins. My doctor sent me a brief e-mail back, which I appreciate, saying that we would confer on my condition and options when I see him tomorrow morning. I hope there are some reasonable options. I am scheduled for chemo tomorrow, but I don’t see this as a reasonable option right now.

There was a large article in the Wall Street Journal today about medical insurance companies cracking down on approving payment for chemo drugs for cancer patients where the drug has not been proven for a person’s specific cancer, but whereas the drug has proven at least mildly successful in some similar type cancers. These chemo drugs I’ve been taking for the past 9 months are very expensive. They run $10 – 40K per month. So far, I have been very fortunate in that my insurance has paid for all of my treatments (surgery, radiation, chemo) minus deductibles and co-pays. Even these add up, but not nearly as much as an uncovered newer cancer drug. I’m reaching the stage of options where the use of an unproven cancer drug for my type of cancer may become the only viable reasonable option for me from a well established cancer institute. There are options, such as IPT, being offered by small cancer clinics. These too are expensive and it is unclear whether or not they would be covered by insurance. The kicker is that there are no guarantees in any case. It’s almost like buying a brand new car at a reputable dealer and it’s sold under the label “buyer beware.”

Well, that’s enough prattling on for this morning. I’ll fill you all in on my next steps within the next few days. Take care everyone.

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