Monday, August 04, 2014

Red Pill or Blue Pill?

"You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
My first visit to the oncologist is over and I've heard about all of the red pill stuff on the road ahead of me. I returned home with lots of new information to process and think about, I'm not sure where to begin talking about it all.

I guess the most depressing information is that the cancer I have can't be cured. Chemotherapy doesn't work on it. Promising new drugs are in the pipeline, but nothing gets rid of it at this point in time. That said, they can push it into remission in most cases.

There are six different oral drugs available that work against it, each of them runs around $14K per month, but my health insurance should knock that down to somewhere around $100 a month. That's what I'm hoping for anyway, otherwise my budget is going to be pretty hard hit. If it's more than that, I'm going to have to find some way of adding some extra income.

They plan to start me out on the drug that has the mildest side effects but I can still look forward to hair loss, diarrhea, nausea, or various other highly annoying things. A few folks get away with no side effects, but most have at least a couple. All of the drugs also mess with the effects of the heart medications I'm currently on, so I need to see my cardiologist for some adjustments there. I expect to be starting on the cancer drugs in about a week. There are also a couple of clinical trial drugs that show some promise, but I probably won't qualify due to all of my other health problems.

I'm returning in a couple of weeks for another set of CT and MRI scans to see how much the cancer has grown and establish a benchmark to gauge how well the drugs work. I'll be visiting this out-of-town doctor every two weeks for two or three months or until they get me stabilized, then I'll be transferred to a local doctor for continuing care.

Once I got back to town, I called my dad to update him on my situation, and found out that bad stuff is hitting everyone else in the family.  His health insurance has been provided as a part of his retirement package for about 20 years but is being terminated at the end of this year. Because of that, he's having to move out of his current one bedroom apartment into a smaller one room suite so he can continue to pay his medical bills.  On top of that, my sister's employer has announced they are shutting down operations in about 10 months and she'll be out of a job.

That's the red pill.

I think I'd rather take a blue pill...

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