Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Addition

Mario arrived last night - an early birthday present for my son. He is chewing at my shoes right now. He is a teacup Maltese/Shitzu. He is cute, but not trained yet. At least the "messes" are smaller than our Golden Retriever's were. The fun begins....

Friday, March 21, 2008

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

A friend of ours is moving with her husband and kids to the northern part of the state. Her husband has a new job and many new and exciting opportunities await them. I understand - I have been there. All of the feelings that go along with change. Excitement for the new that awaits, but also sadness for what must be left behind. Before I made my move 4 1/2 years ago I was always envious when someone moved away. Then I had my turn and with it came the bad and the good. Now that I am happy where I am, I am not envious anymore. I am happy for the new that THEY will have, but sad that I will not see her and talk with her as much. We will email and stay in touch, but it will not be the same.

In the same breath that I am sad to see them go I have to remember that it is just a few hours away. So many of us who have been touched by cancer or illness have to say goodbye to many that we cannot call if we miss them or email them or read their blog!

I made this collage for my friend as she is a lover of art. We have had many discussions about art and art in schools or should I say the lack of art in schools in California. It is my approach at the Kelly Rae Roberts technique. I have made many new friends since arriving in California, she being one of them. I have kept many old friends from New York as well. I wish the same for her and that I will remain one of her "old friends".

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Great Bit O' News

I received the best phone call today at 2:55pm. "Your scans are clean!" I am not Irish but my daughter is so maybe she brought me the luck of the Irish today! Those are the best 4 words you can hear when you are in remission.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

10 Months Ago She Danced...

Yesterday at the OC Breast Health Symposium, photos of two breast cancer survivors were shown on the large screens in the room. The announcer said "now a moment of silence". One of my fellow support group women and I both gasped. Melinda's pictured was on the screen - we both said at the same time "I did not know that she died". Last May my husband and I attended the 1st Annual Komen Pink Tie Ball. It was 10 days after my expander switch surgery. We had 5 survivors at our table. My support group leader sat at our table with a beautiful tall blond woman. Melinda was also a survivor who attended a different support group but Sandy was the leader for both of our groups. I found out that Melinda was Stage 4. You would have never know it from looking at her. We all danced together. I wanted to go back and eat or rest and the two of them just wanted to dance. I think that Melinda had a great time that night. I did ask Sandy another time how Melinda was doing and she was ok then also. It was such a shock to see her picture.

When I got home I looked up her obituary. It said that she had fought for 5 years. I do not know her specific case, what stage was she when she was diagnosed or was she ever in remission. I do know she turned 50 in September. Who knows maybe being diagnosed at 45 she thought if I could only live until 50. She passed at the end of January. Then I thought of Sandy, our support group leader. How hard it must be for her to help so many and befriend some and then to lose some, many even younger than herself. Sandy is a 22 year survivor.

This morning Melinda was still on my mind. How someone who looked so alive and viable could be dead 9 months later. In the support group that I attend for the kids, people have died since we have been going, but usually they were too sick to have come to the meetings so mostly we met their spouses. Melinda was the first person since my diagnosis that I met and spent some time with that has passed. I was trying to put on my make-up and I started to cry thinking about her. Not a good combination crying and make-up application. My 7 year old came in and asked what was wrong and why my eyes looked funny? I did not really want to tell him because the cancer was so hard on him and I did not want him to worry about me, but my guy does not give up easily. I told him I was sad. "Why?" I tried "just because". "Just because why, Mom?". "Don't you feel well?" "I feel fine." "Is it because I had bad behavior?" I did not want him to think it was his fault - even though he has had some bad behavior the past few days. So I told him how I met Melinda and that she died and that I was sad. I also had to quickly tell him that she was sicker than me. He has always wondered that if so many other people have died from cancer why am I going to be different? He gave me a hug, but I could tell that he was still thinking about it. Just as we were heading out to church he said "well Mom Melinda must have finished her job." I asked him what he meant. " God gives you a job to do and when you finish it then he takes you up to heaven, so she must have finished hers." So here's to dancing like Melinda until we finish our jobs!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

One Win, One Loss and So MUCH Frustration

For 5 months my oncologist and I have been trying to get an MRI and 3 CT scans approved. I was denied by my group insurance plan in November. My doctor appealed only to be denied again. ( One of the experts reviewing my case was a cardiologist - I am not sure why as I did not have cancer of the heart. Another person told me their expert was a pediatrician!) My secondary, independent insurance approved the tests in late December. I felt that my group insurance should pay their portion so I decided to fight it. I started the appeal to the State of California. After I sent my letter and tons of paperwork to the State I worked with my breast surgeon to also help in trying to get the tests approved. After many hours and calls, she was successful in getting the group insurance to pay their portion. They agreed to pay their portion of the $3000.00 part of the MRI but not the $300.00 2d/3d imaging. I was thankful for this - usually my luck would have been that they paid their portion of the $300.00 and I had to pay the $3000.00. The problem was I was approved to have the MRI at one facility by one insurance and another facility for the other insurance. So after many more hours and phone calls I got 2 approvals for one MRI at one location and even got it scheduled for this Friday!! That is my win! When the mail arrived today I received notice that the State and its independent review board has upheld the denial of the group insurance company for my 3 CT scans. That is my loss - although not entirely as my independent insurance plan has approved it so I do not have to completely pay out of pocket. I am still trying to schedule the scans. So almost 6 months to the day that my oncologist wrote the orders for the tests I can now have them. Health Insurance is so frustrating. Now I do not want to sound too much like someone from my homestate, but something really needs to change. For those of you out there that are healthy, get health insurance but really try to read the fine print. Unfortunately I do not think that you really know or find out what they cover until you need it and then it can be too late. I have double insurance coverage we pay over $750.00 a month in premiums and you can see the trouble that I ran into. So hopefully the cancer has not come back for if it has it would have had the chance to quadruple in size over the past 6 months. I pray for clean scans and hopefully less hours per day speaking with doctors' offices and insurance companies so that I can complete more things on " My List".

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