Thursday, October 11, 2012

A coffee angel and the price of chemo

There were a few rough days last week.

Wednesday was my scheduled yearly mammogram.  I haven't had many of these "yearly" visits yet, as I'm in my young 40's, but I understand the routine.  Stand up to the machine, get your boobs squished like a flat pancake while the sweetest person talks your ear off.  I find it funny, in an interesting way, that the nicest people are hired for these jobs.  Which makes sense:  intrusive exam = lovely grandmotherly type.

Anyway, Thursday comes and I get a call.  "We would like you to come back for more pictures of your right breast.  We have openings today."  Gulp.

Now, I know this is not uncommon.  Of course it makes sense that they may not have all the right angles to see all they want to see.  But I did not think of these common thoughts.  I went into full panic mode.

How could my kids grow up without me?

I won't see Haley get married?

I need to be here for Jack.

You see, if you don't already know, my son has leukemia.  And it would just be so cruel to lay another thing on this family.   We can't have two of us with cancer.  I'm playing the "fair" card here, and that just wouldn't be fair.  I call my husband at work and tell him I need to go in and the silence on the other end says volumes.

So, I go in to get another five smushes (is this a real word) on my right breast.  I go to the waiting room to wait for the results, only to find out they now want an ultrasound.  PANIC.  But I keep it in check.

In the end, they were just cysts.  No immediate worries of cancer.  But I left there a puddle of smush (there, I used it again).  Relieved, but beaten up.

I decided I needed a Dunkin Donuts pumpkin coffee after that fiasco.  I mean, fearing you have cancer always deserves a hot pumpkin coffee, am I right?!?  When it's my turn in the drive thru line, I pull up to find out that the person in front of me paid for my coffee.  Just a random act of kindness.  Do you think they knew?  Do you think that on this very day, at that very minute, I needed a random act of kindness?  Well, the flood gates were opened and I was truly thankful.

Fast forward to Friday.  Jack goes into the Dana Farber Cancer Institute every third Friday, which is the beginning of his chemo cycle.  While he is getting a lumbar puncture (where chemo is injected directly into his spine), I head to the pharmacy to retrieve his medicines.

As is customary (and polite), you stand about 10 feet behind the person at the counter.  But I can clearly see the register and the amounts showing on the screen.  At first I think they must be codes for the medicines; 518.60, 320.40, 196.80, etc . . .   Then it totals up:  $10,100.80


They were never codes!  They were the cost of her medicines!  OMG!  She just ran her credit card through like she was buying a pack of gum.

It just seems criminal to me.  I don't know her story, or the story of the loved one she is getting the meds for, but is this the cost to staying alive?  Do the meds last a week, month?  How can anyone afford this?  I feel so thankful that we do have insurance and that it covers many of our cancer-related expenses.  And perhaps she can submit the receipt to someone, somewhere, and get back some of the costs.  But holy cow.

Holy cow.

Stay healthy people.  

P.S.  I wasn't offered the same customary, politeness when I was at the counter paying for my son's medicines.  The woman behind me came up to the counter, slammed her purse down within 6" of me, and started to leaf through her purse.  She had her pathetic looking husband holding her other bags while she barked at him, trying to find some hidden item buried in bottom.  After my initial shock that she lacked all boundry skills, I would turn and look at her, hoping she would get the what-the-hell-are-you-doing-up-my-ass-you-arrogant-uncivilized-human-being stare and sulk away.  But she didn't.  And, because I am exceptionally good at thinking exactly what to say after the fact, I just left there irrate.

1 comment:

  1. Very glad for the results friend...have you ever thought of writing a book? I think you should consider it. XO