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“The Road to Ruin” – At the Financial Crossroads – A Sundance Update

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

The sign up ahead said “Rest Stop.” So, I thought I would pull over and talk to you again this morning. You know, I just really need someone to talk to today…I hope you have a minute? Well, maybe more than a minute…some of you know how I am :)

Lots of things have been rollin’ around my head lately and I’ve been wrestling with big decisions that could affect the outcome of my future health situation. This has led to some deep thinking and some frustration on my part as I was deciding what to do. And reading some posts about insurance woes and the key role they play – literally holding our lives in their hands, has given me many things to ponder.

And then….this morning, it sort of all came together, as I had to do what I did not want to have to do and what I had been fighting against. It took just ONE phone call and now the attack plan has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Just sort of let the air out of my tires, and it felt like I was back out “on my own” trying to find the way again, after I hung up the phone with the nurse.

So, what happened?

Well, after nearly 6 long years of the battle, I finally came to the “Financial Crossroads” in my journey today. I cancelled my CT scan for this Friday, because I can no longer afford to pay for the scans anymore.

I also cancelled the lung surgery that was already scheduled as well.

I’ve prided myself on being able to stay afloat and get done what needed to be done – it all just becomes another monthly payment in the end. But therein, lies the problem.

After nearly 6 years, I am paying on close to 10 medical bills per month, for about $600 per month. Two other bills (at the new hospital) are on their way to Collections, because they want $138.70 for one of those and another $90 for the other one would add to that total, putting the price tag over $800 each and every month.

I have tried working with the hospital on a lower amount for both of the ones scheduled for Collections, but they won’t budge and I just can’t pull it out of my a$$ anymore.

I’m still paying on the CT scan from Oct2009, right before DaVinci surgery. Each CT costs me $753.00 out of my pocket. So, I’m due to have last year’s CT scan paid off in early 2011…you can see where this is going. Each CT scan done represents another YEAR of my life to pay that one off.

And since I’ve run out of “monthly payments” (for now), essentially, I’m Done and on hold for this stage of my journey until I can clear the way to get back in the fight and go some more.

Which brings me to this update:
Early in January, I had posted the results of a CT scan that was done for free (I had met my out of pocket deductibles) for that year and I said go ahead. Well, they found another tumor, as large as the previous 2 they had removed.

Many of you had posted back that it was probably scar tissue, or a granuloma. John23 jokingly referred to it as an “M&M.” I laughed at that one, very funny, and wish that were the case. But, it was not then – and it is not now.

The new tumor is located 6” further down from the previous 2 excised tumors. Since the previous 2 tumors were benign, I feel confident that this tumor more than likely is as well. What we do know is that the tumor was large in Jan2010 and is undoubtedly still growing – the question is “How big is it now?” A question that will have to wait awhile longer.

Could it be Cancer? Don’t know, probably not, but time will tell. One thing is for certain though, even if this tumor is benign, it is GROWING, and eventually I’ll have to deal with it. Gonna’ cost me another lung surgery to find out. Sort of like “playing poker” and “calling” – show me your hand.

It is frustrating to know that after all that I’ve gone through with rectal, liver, and lung surgeries, along with all of the radiation, CyberKnife, chemo infusions and pills, and lastly doing the DaVinci, becoming the 1st person in North Texas to do this procedure on the lungs, that it all boils down to a “piece of paper” with numerals written on, that makes All the Difference.

What’s even more frustrating is paying every month for a medical plan that you can NO LONGER USE. You gotta’ love it, right?

So far, I do not meet the monetary guidelines set forth by most organizations that offer assistance. We both work and either individually or combined, we exceed the limit. I also checked into our employee assistance program, but they do not cover “any” medical expenses whatsoever.

It’s all about the “Benjamins” – it is a “Money World” – you have to “pay to play.”

So, what is Craig’s GamePlan now?

Good question, what I plan on doing is continuing to get my bloodwork done – I’ll evaluate those results and look at my CEA numbers and take it from there – and hope for the best for now. As soon as I can get this addressed, I’m All In again!

I accept this “Stop in the Journey” as part of “Doin’ Business.”

Realistically, I would say that I might have to sit out the entire year with no CT scans. I’m going to hope that things will not get out of hand during that time and if the tumors continue to grow, that they grow slowly. You can send your best wishes for this.

I will remain positive during this time and by no means have I “mailed it in.” I’ll fight on until my last breath – that you can take to the bank :)

I’ll close with one last thought – and a funny story…

Last Thought:
I’ve read many posts over the last couple of days about “Scanxiety” and the apprehension that comes with waiting for your scan results. Many of you have had or are doing them right now. I certainly understand those thoughts and feelings all to well.

Right now, I wish that I had those same feelings that you do. Why? Because that would mean that I could have a scan and would be waiting on results as well.

We never REALIZE what we’re missing, until that option is no longer available, or is taken from us. Something to ponder about…a fresh perspective about a tried and true subject.

Funny Story:
When I was first diagnosed back in June 2004, I told the Onc, “It would be easier if I just died.” He said, “Craig, when do you think that will be?” And I so famously said, “When you can’t AFFORD the scans, treatments, and medicines….that’s WHEN.”

I want to thank each one of you for taking your time to share my thoughts with you today. It’s always a real pleasure to talk with you when I have something on my mind. It’s a comfort to know you are around to listen during those times and can understand what it is that I’m trying to convey. I carry my thoughts around as long as I can, then I remember the Board and know that I’ve got an outlet when things get overwhelming.

I should have told you sooner, but there are so many of you out there, with more dire stories than mine, and I feel I don’t want to burden any of you unnecessarily with something silly that I’ve got going on.

Things Happen for a Reason – and I’m sure it will all work itself out. I did not come this far over the past 6 years to be defeated by $$$’s.

Everyone take care and remember “You’ve still got a friend” in me. I’m watching so many of you out there – you are all an inspiration and I’m so proud of each one of you.

Keep firin’ as long as their are bullets in the chamber – leave it all on the table. Continued best wishes on each of your battles (CareGivers TOO) – and keep going for as long as you can – rest when you can – then get back after it when you can.

Cancer is like the fable of the “Tortoise and the Hare.” The race is not always won by the swiftest, rather slow and steady steps will still get you to the finish line.

“May your best days be ahead of you.”

-Craig

kimby's picture
kimby
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

Craig,

This post is not a sign of weakness, but one of courage and strenth - as usual. That is what makes you so special, you're willingness to open up and share your story. Thank you for that courage. It isn't easy to do that. We need that here.

It's easy to tell others what's best for their situation and stay at arm's length. It's much harder to tell your own story and expose yourself that way.

It comes back to the gift you give when you let others help you. You help all of us so much and we want the chance to do the same.

Kimby
Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.

maglets's picture
maglets
Posts: 2596
Joined: Jun 2006

No my friend not weakness...Kimby is right. (Kimby always has been one smart cookie) :)
It is more important to tell the truth about how you are feeling. I feel we often go wrong on this board when we do tell one another what to do. I personally do not like any conflict. I think you are right Craig that the board works best when showing caring, love and diversity....I just tend to run away when there is conflict.

This thread has been an eye-opener for me...it never occurred to me that people actually lose their houses whilst trying to pay for treatment. What kind of naive Canadian space have I been sitting in????

Thank you Craig for telling your story and allowing others to do the same. I wish I could help you all....

hugs
mags

abmb's picture
abmb
Posts: 311
Joined: Sep 2009

Craig, if you can't have an emotional meltdown here, where else could you have one. Everyone here understands, it is a tough time for you right now, and you have every right to vent your feeling, emotions, and anger with this disease right here where others can lend you Prayers, support through kind words or some help with advice. Take care and keep posting. Just know that you have helped a lot of people with your support here on this board. When I come on, I look for a post to see how you are doing. You have given me info when I needed it for my husband and the only thing I can offer you is my Prayers. Please keep your Faith and I believe God is listening. God Bless.
Margaret

dianetavegia's picture
dianetavegia
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

The hospital called and wanted me to bring over $2,000 tomorrow for my CT Scan. $600. deductible plus $1500 out of pocket and 20% of the cost. We ended the call with me giving her our monthly income amount and her promising to give me a sheet of paper that would qualify me for assistance (paid in full). Whew... gave me a tummy ache!

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5065
Joined: Feb 2008

Hey, Craig.

I just wanted to tell you that I put you on the prayer list for my Sunday School class and by Bible study.

*hugs*
Gail

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Lisa. have you looked in getting a modification done on your home? With your cancer and bills you just may be able to get one. I would give it a try. They bring down the home loan to it's current value, or give you a lower interest rate? and other options.

Contact these folks if you are interested and they will let you know if they think you qualify, then you need to contact your mortgage company to send you a packet.

https://www.hopenow.com/

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Lisa. have you looked in getting a modification done on your home? With your cancer and bills you just may be able to get one. I would give it a try. They bring down the home loan to it's current value, or give you a lower interest rate? and other options.

Contact these folks if you are interested and they will let you know if they think you qualify, then you need to contact your mortgage company to send you a packet.

https://www.hopenow.com/

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Craig, as soon as I win the lottery, $$$$$ it's coming your way!

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