This is the story of a friend of mine who is laid off (from a contract job with a health insurer) and is uninsured. Afraid she couldn’t afford the vital treatment she needed for an illness she suspected might be serious,, she tried to put off her first doctor visit and delay her tests. Finally, with a blood count way out of whack, she was encouraged by a doctor to enter the hospital through the emergency room (the gold plated entrance.)
Here is her story, with her permission.
I feel like I’m in one of those movies where a life turns upside down in an instant, only it’s real and it’s not a movie. But, like a good movie, I’m optimistic there will be a happy ending.
Have been feeling a bit tired for several weeks but it didn’t seem like a big deal. I still didn’t think anything was seriously wrong when I became worn out in the middle of doing a recent workshop for the Phoenix SPJ Chapter (Society of Professiona Journalists) on social media use. By the end of the workshop my feet and ankles were triple normal size and hurt a lot. With rest, I got back to normal and just thought it was a side effect from an excessively hot Arizona day that would be cured with some air conditioning.
Had a routine blood test as a precaution. Doctor called me in the next day. White blood count was 14 times normal levels, an indicator of leukemia. Long story short – more tests, a trip to the ER, admission to Banner Good SamaritanHospital, more tests and a (painful) bone marrow biopsy later, I am now back at home and waiting on biopsy results which will determine the type of chemotherapy needed for this.
The GOOD news is they are pretty sure I have Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia which is TREATABLE. I will find the best way to live with this and restore my health.
Special thanks to my doctor – Richard Dobrusin – for his kind, caring personal attention during the past week, and the unknown pathologist at the first lab who ran extra tests, at no charge, and called Dr. Dobrusin personally to be sure that I got immediate attention. There is a long journey and battle ahead, but I’m optimistic that, with your help, support and prayers, I will be fine.
I also want to thank my oncologist, Dr. Henry Lee, who came in on a weekend and, with others, pushed to get the biopsy done on a Saturday instead of the routine process which would have pushed it to next Tuesday.
The many wonderful medical and support staff members in the Trauma Center and the Bone Marrow Transplant Center at Banner Good Samaritan provided a lot of information, support, extra touches of care and comfort, an endless supply of Dr. Peppers and more. 🙂 They are indeed “one of the best hospitals in America” as proclaimed by US News and World Report.
And, most importantly, I want to acknowledge and thank my good friends who’ve had cancer in their own lives and provided immediate help in many ways.
At this point I need your good thoughts, good wishes, prayers of any denomination and positive energy. Thanks so much!
We are hoping Pat is eligible for ACCCHS, in which the hospital is helping her enroll, but if she’s not, her effort to get well will surely put her in bankruptcy. It has already cost Banner more money than it had to, because delivering ER service is very expensive. When Pat called me the first time, she was very frightened. She said to me, “I feel like a poster child for the need for universal health insurance.”
Not only had she heard the unfamiliar term “leukemia,” but she knew she was uninsured. In fact, that’s why her physician recommended the ER: he knew it was the only way she could get treated and admitted without insurance. Knowing what I know about health care in America, I knew that as well.
If we lived in one of the countries with universal health care (every other developed nation), Pat would still be worried about cancer, but not about how she was going to pay for it at the same time.