Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cancer is Crazy Expensive!

When most people think of cancer, rarely do they think of the cost. Unless you've been there. Trust me! Years ago, when someone would say, they had cancer...or a family member did, I'd feel bad. Like why did it have to happen to them? I'd pray for them. To have strength, to help them through their treatments, and for their health. But I NEVER thought about the money side of it.

Until my Goddaughter was diagnosed. I know what it cost my friends. They picked up, and moved across the country. Initially, they rented a hotel by the week. When it got too expensive, my dear friends spent day and night in the hospital. When Mr. C would have to go work, he'd come home. For a few weeks. Mrs. C slept on a hospital chair.

And as friends, we tried to help. We played extra gigs. Had fundraisers. Sold items. Held raffles. Pitched in, our own money. We did everything we could, for almost 5 years. It was crazy, at times. We knew that my Little Cinderella's healthcare, was covered. For the most part. Because of a senior doctor I was working with. He made that possible. And when things wouldn't work out, he and his wife would take care of the bills.

But as far as our friends, it was tough. I think they spent nearly 2 in a hospital. Coming home, when all of us could send money. Getting hotel rooms, when there was some extra cash. Or we'd gift them a hotel room for a couple of weeks. But it was tough.

Not to forget, they really couldn't work. They had a small child, fighting for her life. She spent so much time, in the hospital! And they were so far away. As her health improved, and Mr. C could leave for work more often...they rented a small apartment. Down the road from the hospital. But it still made things tough. Money was so tight. And the only thing that was on their radar, was their sweet baby girl.

Like I said, we did everything to send extra money. I mean, they still had needs. Food, basic hygiene, basic needs. Yes there was the RMH from time to time. But when you are looking at the length of time they were, it starts to not be an option...

With my Dad, we were lucky. In some ways. He was older. We were able to get him better insurance. My Mom could work. I could care for him. At night, when she was home, I could work. Yes, there was good insurance. Yes, we lived 5 minutes from the hospital. Yes, we could work.

But it was still expensive. I was so glad, I was working. Insurance covered a HUGE portion, of the medical bills. But not everything. And being that he spent a third of a year, in the hospital...those bills rack up fast!

Looking back, even in a good week...when he was relatively healthy, it was expensive. We'd have 2-3 appointments a week. If it was a specialist, a treatment, or a surgeon...we paid between $35-100 an appointment. If it was a regular checkup with his primary doctor, it was $5. Just on doctors' visits, we could spend $200 a week! When you think about having to see the oncologist, going to radiation, having chemo, testing, and was tough.

I never let my parents know. I covered two thirds of the cost. And then there was the medication. I look back now, and it floors me! It shouldn't. Because I was at Walgreen's at least once a week. My Dad had other health issues, as well as the cancer. But it was between $1500-2000 a month...for medication and supplies. I know! My paychecks, never seemed like enough.

Did we have good insurance? Heck yeah! I think about it now, and I know we would have never made it, without insurance. I think in total, my Dad paid $200 a month. Plus whatever Medicare charges. But it covered a lot. I knew the Ambulance cost. I knew co-pays. We had free OT, PT, and Home Healthcare. Which included visits from the nurse 3-4 times a week. A doctor, whenever we needed it. Social workers, nurse coordinators, etc.

But now that I look back, I can see how people choose to not have treatments. It's not always that a person doesn't want the treatments. You just can't afford them. Especially if you have a ton of doctors, medication, do multiple treatments a week.

When I knew  my Mom was sick, I panicked. For a ton of reasons. Financially, I was not sure we could do it. Like I said before, she's not eligible for that same insurance, until early next year. When you think about going to an's easily $200 out of pocket. To start with. Each time!

Forget about trying to get a doctor, when you are uninsured. Or trying to have testing done. Thousands of dollars! Tons of headaches. Countless phone calls! I can't even begin to think, what treatments would be like. It's crazy! I think about the pain meds, chemo meds, anti-nausea meds...I get nauseous!

Then I think about the basic stuff. Like I can't work. I have to take care of her. She can't work. There is no one else, to lean on. Or so it feels. Because you still have utility bills, to pay for food, and gas. Do you know, that 98% of our appointments with my Dad, where across town. You need to have a good working vehicle.

Oh, and that food thing. Most things don't taste right. And if I think about all the supplements my Dad scares me. Ensure is expensive. Insurance doesn't cover it. He used brown rice protein a lot. That stuff is expensive. Regular food doesn't taste right. Things just aren't right. With my Dad, there was a lot of McDonald's. It's what tasted right...for him. With my Mom, it's hit and miss. Whatever she asks for, I try and get it.

Then there are things like equipment. We gave some away, after my Dad's passing. We lent some out...and now it's missing. So I have to run around, looking for those things, my Mom is needing. Or will soon need. And there are clothes. My Dad had clothes, ranging in size from small to extra large. When they lose weight, you have to buy more. Clothes are not cheap. My Dad's weight could fluctuate 20 pounds in just a few weeks. With my Mom, she's dropped quite a few sizes. Quickly. And she hasn't yet started treatment.

When you think about all those things, it's overwhelming. It's the stuff I don't talk to people about. Like when I take her to the ER, and while she's having a test...they're asking for a payment. Or when the bills start coming in. I just grin and bare it. I don't want her to worry about those things. She needs to worry about fighting cancer.

It was tough, the last go around. With my Dad. I'm pulling up my boot straps already. I know it's going to be tough. I know we have a long road ahead of us. I'm thankful for our family and friends. Who are rallying behind us. But I know, they can't pay our bills, fill our fridge, or take care of the medical costs.

So I have faith, that we'll make it. I'll continue to sell on Etsy. And hopefully, at Craft Fairs. I pray, that some insurance miracle happens. And well, I hope that she's not as sick, as I think she is. It's a long road. Sometimes scary. Other times, familiar. Mostly, unknown. 🐦

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