March 23rd

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Cancer is a full time job. I mean, life in general is, but cancer doesn’t care how busy you are.

I opened my dishwasher around 10 a.m. to unload it.

It was around 5:30 that I actually got to the task.

I spent the entire day on the phone, emailing, sending records, requesting records, explaining and re-explaining every thing over and over.

There is a 5 cm by 4 cm tumor in my husbands throat, he can’t wait another 2 weeks for his radiation intake appointment, and who knows how long after that before treatment would begin. All of the doctors he has seen so far have rushed every test, squeezed in every appointment, and expedited results.  They all share the sense of urgency due to his struggle with swallowing food, his major voice impairment and his significantly reduced airway. This has all been done through UCLA and it’s been fantastic because everything is in their digital portal and they can share his records instantly.
With UCLA being a good hour away, and City of Hope (CoH) being five minutes away, he wants treatment locally so we are transferring care now.  CoH has been very nice and tried to be helpful, but apparently Cancer doesn’t care about Spring Break! So many of the specialists he needs to see are on vacation.

Long story short, it took a LOT of calls and just a few people willing to go out of their way to help. There was some holdup with getting records send over from UCLA, so all they had was the biopsy report and that didn’t give info on the size of tumor he has, so they didn’t see the urgency. Eventually some angel found out that he had seen a local Dr for that first visit (story here) and she called him and asked if he could validate the urgency. (I totally understand this. Everyone with cancer has a sense of urgency and would want to expedite. Normally I totally respect the scheduling, but this really is urgent. See video of his airway blockage here)  Well, even though that local Dr had done nothing more than a few second scope and noticed “something in there”, he knew back then that there was urgency here. Bingo! That’s all CoH needed and he is now scheduled for his Radiation Oncologist this coming Tuesday!

Now, that was a huge ordeal, but what happened smack in the middle is what brought me to tears. I got an email simply saying “…your medical insurance has been cancelled and a refund of your last payment is being issued…” uhm… I think I’m going to be sick… So I call my agent, leave a message, and freak out. She responds with an email saying “…so, none of you are currently insured as of March 1st…”  I felt sucker punched. Carlos and I both trying to gather payment records, any correspondence notes, and prepare for a call to both the insurance company and our lawyer. (We use Legal Shield and love it for things like this.) We might have both expressed some majorly displaced anger towards each other… it wasn’t pretty.

Basically in January during open enrollment, we switched all of us except Stacey and Robby to a new plan to be effective March 1st. We told our current plan we wanted to cancel three of us, and leave the two on the plan. No problem, new bill was issued, paid and confirmed. Apparently they denied that arrangement and failed to contact us, but instead cancelled all of us.

The reason… Since I was the primary person on our plan, and wanted to change plans, it meant Stacey and Robby were getting individual, not family, plans. When they went to do that, they started by removing them from our family plan, but since  it was after open enrollment, they couldn’t enroll them in their individual new plans. The computer flipped out and cancelled all of us from all plans, assuming all of us were outside of the open enrollment period.

Thankfully our agent and the Insurance rep was able to use the “qualifying event” protocol. A qualifying event is a list of circumstances that allows you to enroll in a plan outside of open enrollment. Our qualifying event was that we lost our insurance at no fault of our own. (that’s the key part right there… not our fault!)  So, we had to re-enroll all of us and they will retractivate it back to March 1st. PHEW!!  That was a horrible feeling!

As that was winding down, we got a call from the Dr to go over the PET scan now that the final report was in. There are a few goodies in his right lung that they need to watch. They will decide Tuesday if they look closer prior to treatment or if they hope the chemo takes care of it and look at it again after treatment. It may not be cancer there, but they couldn’t be certain it isn’t. As I passed this info on to Carlos, I saw his entire body sink. It’s heartbreaking to see.

On the upside, he was excited to be well enough for a quick RV trip with his friends to ride dirt bikes. His breathing gets labored when he exerts even a little (he noticed this while packing for the trip even) so he most likely won’t do much more than putt around camp, but he will enjoy the fresh air and good company.

Even in days like this, I see God guiding every step. Sometimes He lets me flounder on my own in a swirl of panic, then He reminds me He’s got this. He isn’t frantic. That’s all on me. When I let it go, peace comes.

The link to the scope video is here. 

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