Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mr. TheraP's trip to the Cancer Center (12.2.08)

[Personal Report and Public Health Commentary]

The new cancer center opened this summer.  I didn't go to tour it when it opened.  Who knew?  It's a stunning building, with one long curving glass wall that overlooks a couple of ponds and beyond that to a small campus of red brick buildings across the street.   Beautiful in the new snow yesterday morning.  I'd call it a very healing setting - especially having now seen it from the inside.

The whole process was really ideal.  Not that I would have known what "ideal" would be beforehand.  But looking back on it, from my perspective, we received a lot more than meetings with doctors and nurses and office staff.  There was evidence someone had actually looked through a chart and knew many things beforehand.  There was lots of time for questions and answers, and two physical exams - one by the resident, another by the radiation oncologist, and a long talk with the surgeon.  Careful thinking through of alternate options, side effects, drawbacks, and reasons for this and for that, along with a final recommendation for surgery were discussed.  Everything was explained.  People were as kind and informative as you could possibly want.  And he's scheduled for surgery next month, with the expectation that the small, but relatively aggressive cancer will all be removed along with the prostate.

Those are the plain facts.  A very caring medical setting.  Attention to the needs of the patient (and family).  Even a stress questionnaire in case referral for social work or other assistance might be needed.  But as we sat waiting, afterward, for the kind clerk, who was setting up appointments, I couldn't help but think about the people who aren't on Medicare, who maybe need to wait for an authorization, not knowing if or when it will be approved.... meanwhile the cancer might be getting the upper hand.  I thought about how this might have gone before he was on Medicare, how the private insurance we took 9 years ago had ruled out any coverage for this specific organ - as pre-existing - so they could hedge their bets and cover only for things he'd never been treated for.  I thought about the fact that we had just paid the yearly premium for his secondary insurance (to pick up what Medicare doesn't pay) and I pondered who might not be able to afford that - this year or any year.  I wondered how many people who came to the cancer center maybe couldn't really appreciate all the care and consideration, due to worrying how they'd pay for it.

Imagine all the people.  I'm thinking of that song.

Imagine  Public Health:  So no one falls through the cracks.



I'm very glad to hear the visit went as well as it did!
You're right, in a civilized world no one should have to worry about not getting the health care they need. It's time for us (in the US) to make that unecessary fear a thing of the past.
Glad that you and Mr. TheraP had as an ideal experience as possible. In times of crisis many people turn inward and think about their problems and issues - me me me. That you are able to think of this in the conext of others who are less fortunate is a testament to your humanity.
Good to see you back!
You know, I've often found that being in a place of suffering or vulnerability gives me a way to reach out - from heart to heart. As if I could burrow down and find a place within myself that connects to deep places in others.
That morning at the cancer center, right across from us sat an elderly black lady, bundled up in warm clothing she'd snuggled around her - and dozing off. We spoke a bit. She'd been up all night. Likely arrived by public transportation. She was there alone. I couldn't talk long as we were called to go in before she was. She's on my mind.
Before that we talked to the admitting clerk - a young black lady who'd been in the military, the Air Force, was kept from retiring for a few months due to 9/11. She was the same person who later made all the appointments for us. Very efficient. Kind. I'm glad she has a job that can't be outsourced, that is secure.
Yesterday, taking my parents to another part of the medical center, I had the most wonderful conversation about Obama with two black ladies (elderly mother and her daughter) - by chance the daughter had been right behind my car, dropping her mother off, and had backed up so I could drive from drop-off point to park the car.
So, for whatever reason I reach out to people, wherever I go. Bank tellers. Supermarket checkout people. Greeters at Sam's. One lady at the supermarket, whenever she sees me, and she's white and middle-aged, she shouts one word: Obama!
I'm a one woman ambassador. Nobody appointed me.
When I've done jury duty, I've noticed how people tend to group themselves by race and social status, while waiting to be called for juries. I don't do that. Not sure why. I once had the most interesting talk about religion with a young black man. Can't recall if he was married or not. I remember on that day, noticing the self-segregation of people in that huge room - and somehow it bothered me. I just didn't feel comfortable sitting down at the table that was obviously white, suburban women. Just not my thing, I guess.
Maybe I should have made this into a post (and maybe I will!). And maybe, as I say, this sounds racist or something. And if it does, I hope some people will set me straight in a compassionate way (please be compassionate). Because this is a conversation we need to be having. Between black and white, young and old, gay and straight, all of us together as people who share a common humanity.
There was much talk earlier this year about cutting back on preventive measures for seniors --flu shots, mammograms, and who knows what more the conservatives had on their minds. Keeping medicare requires vigilence. I too hope everyone will be covered as well as we seniors are.
And thank you for the updates on Mr. TheraP. My thoughts are with you both.
Glad to hear it. Also that is a very treatable cancer, so all good.
Prevention: what is that old saying about an ounce vs a pound?
Thanks for the update.
Best wishes to Mr. TheraP.
Tell him that Destor23 wants to see him all better, stylin' and profilin' and WHOOOOOOOOO!
Thera, Give Mr TheraP all my best. I have been through this process (and still in it) and know that strong loving support, clear-eyed, honest and humorous is very important in handling the sequelae of surgery and radiation and chemo. My wife has been my pillar of strength in good days and bad and I know you will be that way for Mr TheraP.
And Destor, you rock.
Lux, I'm sending you healing energy. I hope TPM has also been a solace to you at this time. Thanks that bit of personal info.
Thanks for the update, Thera...Sounds like you've got it all under control. You are a strong woman and I know you will do this anyway, but I want to reinforce the need to stay on top of what's going on. If something doesn't sound right, speak up, make sure they answer all your questions, and bug the hell out of them if things seem to be moving too slowly. Our experience was that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Don't be afraid to squeak!
God bless you both!
Hi Thera!
Good to hear that everything went well and that your place for healthcare is a place of compassion, competency, and serene design.
I can testify to the power of positive thought as I worked for a center similar to the one you described. The mind really does help heal the body. I am sure Mr. TheraP is blessed to have you as a partner to support him in that very important aspect.
They really do remarkable things with surgery and radiation therapy these days, along with the medications to help alieve the side effects.
Hang in there Thera. There is much to be optimistic about.
Along with Bwak, I am sending {{HUGS}} to you.

Hi TheraP,
Just wanted to send some healing energy back at you. I guess I can understand the introspectiveness now!
I send hugs and caring feelings back to everyone who has commented - here - and that thread last week as well. I know many others may have read and not commented but also send good wishes and I return them as well.
Your concern and kindness touches me deeply. I might not have written about this - except that people asked. I'm not going to be giving updates other this one post, because I truly expect all will go well.
From my perch I can write about how this kind of thing affects all of us, and particularly how problems like this as well as joblessness, homelessness, mental illness, the marginalizing of the sick or disabled or those of other faiths or races or cultures - how it affects us as a society and how we can move toward greater compassion. (We all have much to learn. Myself included.)
My best wishes. I understand the condition better than I wish to express. I hope all will be well.
Posted by Marquis de SeaToShiningSea
December 3, 2008 1:54 PM | Reply | Permalink

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