An explanation...

Why Foob? I had a double mastectomy, and at the time, the plastic surgeon put "expanders" under the muscles in my chest. Every 2-3 weeks, they were filled with more saline, in preparation for my reconstructive surgery. They were very full and hard. Uncomfortable. One time, one of my sons gave me a hug and then said "Your foobs are hard!" Hee, hee, hee! My kids have this endearing habit of combining words. So, "Foobs" are fake boobs. Which I will still have, even after the reconstruction.

Foob Babe - that would be me!
"The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next." ~Mignon McLaughlin


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Friday, December 19, 2008

Pink Elephants On Parade

Why is the color PINK the color for breast cancer? I hate pink. I look stupid in pink. This has bothered me for awhile, probably because I keep accumulating pink stuff. I have pink shirts, sweatshirts, slippers, and pajamas. I have a pink ribbon for my car (outside) and air freshner (inside), pink hats, hats with pink flowers, pink jewelry (ok, I like the jewelry - who wouldn't), and a cute pink denim jacket (that I had way before breast cancer - but now looks like I got it just because of breast cancer) etc., etc. Why can't the color for breast cancer be beautiful vibrant RED, or a deep yummy PURPLE - or a soothing denim BLUE? I look way better in those colors than I do in pink. In pink, I look like one of those dancing pink elephants on parade from the movie Dumbo. When I wear pink (combined with having no hair) everyone knows I have cancer, and while this comes in handy sometimes (mostly waiting in line at restaurants), it's pretty much just annoying. Pink is the color of Pepto Bismal - which just reminds me of how nauseated I always feel. Red would make me feel much better.

By the way, thanks to everyone who gives me breast cancer stuff. Since pink has already been established as the color for breast cancer, I'll continue to be a billboard to raise awareness. Whoever made pink the color - I just want to know - what were you thinking???? Next time I'm in charge of a decision that important, it's red or purple all the way, baby!

Cancer sucks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm going to be tired ALL of the time? Not acceptable!

I hate the way Chemo makes me feel. I had my third treatment on Wednesday and I'm soooooo exhausted. If you know me at all, maybe you'll understand why this bothers me so much. Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I went 150% all the time. In fact, it was getting to the point where my family and friends were telling me to slow down. Then cancer hit me, and it's changed my ability to go full blast - or even at a slow crawl. There are a bunch of yucky side affects from chemo - nausea, raw mouth and sores, dry nose and bloody noses, hot flashes and being flushed on my face and neck, diarrhea, etc. - but I think the worst one is being so darn tired all the time. It took me a full day to decorate my Christmas tree. There's something not right with that. I've been reminded time and again about the need for taking care of myself. "Just forget everything else, and take care of yourself - for once". If it was up to me, "taking care of myself" would mean diet and exercise, scripture study, learning new things, etc. Not dealing with cancer. Ok, that's enough of the whining. Other people have it much worse.
I'll end with explaining this picture of the chemo blanket my mom made for me. My mom is my chemo partner and she grosses out whenever I use one of the "public" blankets in the chemo room. She says they are covered with germs. So, she found this really cool fleece fabric with skulls and crossbones all over - very appropriate for chemo (poison). I took it with me for the first time on Wednesday and snuggled under it for the whole day. It was great and my nurse loved it. Thanks Mom!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Don't drink that poison - it's $4.00 an ounce"

That quote is by Groucho Marx - when Rick quoted him, I knew I'd found the perfect name for this post, not just because of the price reference, but because chemo is poison. :-)

I've been waiting to write this blog post for awhile. I decided that I would blog about the cost of cancer some time ago, when I found out from the pharmacist that one bottle of nausea medication (30 pills) was costing me (actually, my insurance) $700.00! I take 3 pills a day. That's unbelievable, right? FYI, I take, not 1, but 4 nausea medications. I counted my pill bottles the other day. I have 12 prescriptions (Ondansetron, Promethazine, Cyclobenzaprine, Dexamathasone, Lorazepam, Effexor - just to name a few). I don't take them all right now, but that's quite a bit of money, just in pills. I started to try to figure out how much money, in pills, I was consuming every day and I stopped at around $800. It was making me sick to my stomach and I didn't want to have to take another nausea pill...

A few weeks ago I received a statement from my oncologist's office. It was one of those "this is not a bill" statements - just telling you how much your balance is and that they've billed the insurance. My balance was $25,000! Ok, so this was my balance after one (that's right, ONE) chemo treatment. In the last 4 months I've had 3 surgeries, a CAT scan, a bone scan, an MRI, 2 mammograms, etc. etc. I've had many, many statements and bills to work out. Good thing I've got insurance, right? The hospital bill from the mastectomies, alone, was over $30,000. But this statement from the oncologist really got my attention. Is chemo really that expensive? It's just 3 little bags of liquid for every treatment. So, last week, when I went for my Herceptin treatment (something I get to do every Wednesday), I asked for an itemized statement, so I could see what that $25,000 represented. When they brought the statement to me, it was no longer $25,000 - now the balance was over $40,000! (Deep breathe)

When I saw the cost of my treatments, I just about choked. Here's a list of what it costs, just for the IV medications, every 3 weeks: Carboplatin is $4284.00, Taxotere is $5488.00, Herceptin is $6048.oo (for the first time) and $3024.00 for the rest of the treatments - (I get this one every week for 4 1/2 months and then every 3 weeks for 7 1/2 months). Those are the IV drips. Then, after every chemo treatment, I get a fun little shot in my stomach that costs $4116.00. So, if you add all of that up - it's around $104,496.00 for 6 chemo treatments. The cost of the remaining Herceptin is around $30,000. These cost do not include the blood work that is done every time I go in to get a treatment, or the other "associated" costs, which add up to around $1500.

The cost of cancer is different for every person. Some people have more surgeries, some less. Some have different medications than others. Some people have treatments for way longer than others. For me, the cost of cancer has been around $202,000 so far. That is not including the reconstructive surgery (or any charge at all from the plastic surgeon) that I'll have next year.

For others, the cost of cancer is way higher. I'm not stupid - I know that the insurance companies don't pay nearly that much for my cancer. But, what if I didn't have insurance? There are people out there, with cancer, who don't have insurance. These drugs/treatments are way too expensive. I wish I could help those who struggle with the cost of cancer. I'm lucky enough to have a $1500 out-of-pocket maximum each year, so this will only cost me around $3000 plus copays on hospital/doctor visits and medication. I've given money to cancer fundraisers for years - ever since my grandfather died from Lymphoma. Now that I know, first hand, the cost of cancer, I'll continue to do this - I encourage everyone to help out with any cancer fundraiser. I'll be at the cancer walks next year - I encourage you to be there with me, or participate in one wherever you live. Not only does it help with the outrageous cost of cancer, it will make you feel wonderful. Galatians 6:2 - "Bear ye one another's burdens..." Help out those who are in need.

By-the-way, don't get me wrong. I'm thankful for the medication that has been developed to help me fight this beast. I'm really grateful to the surgeons and doctors who have helped me, and will continue to help me for the rest of my life to monitor the cancer. And I'm especially thankful that Rick has such great insurance. I know that it costs millions of dollars in research alone to fight cancer. I just wish it wasn't so expensive for those who have to pay for this themselves. Cancer sucks!