The High Cost of Staying Alive
For one who is normally overly concerned about maintaining a budget and living within their means, a cancer diagnosis can seem to blow their world apart. Any earthly concerns of money can be thrown right out the window almost immediately upon hearing the news of your diagnosis.
My heart goes out to those who receive this terrible news without any type of health insurance or a large financial holding.
Rising medical expenses
My family was fortunate to have good health coverage through my position as an educator and a coach. And our good fortune continued when the advanced prostate cancer with extensive bone metastasis stage 4 forced me to into disability retirement, and we were able to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid.
My medical expenses began to accumulate by the thousands very, very quickly. I never knew you could see such costs associated with an illness.
Holding $21,000 in your hand
Last year alone, my prescription costs topped $140,000. The very first shot I ever took in my urological oncologist’s office topped out at $21,000. He even asked me if I wanted to hold the syringe, and at the time, I was not sure what he was getting at.
He quickly explained, “You are holding $21,000 in your hand right now!” I gasped and carefully handed the syringe back to him, as I did not want to drop and burst $21,000 all over his examine room floor.
Astounded by prescription costs
The current oral chemotherapy that I am on called Zytiga does not come cheap either. A normal months worth of Zytiga can come in at a whopping $13,820.
Recently, I had a problem with my prescription plan, and my provider decided to drop all coverage of Zytiga. I was astounded and floored trying to figure out how I was going to come up with the over-$13,000 I would need monthly. That was just for one of my many prescription drugs.
Dodging a bullet
The Lord blessed me with great people at both Edward’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cabell Huntington Hospital, and Marshall Pharmacy. Through the fine efforts of these people, my medication was able to be paid for by a foundation as part of the Marshall Pharmacy.
By paying for my January prescription of Zytiga, the foundation allowed me to reach my medical drug deductible. Meeting this deductible allowed my prescription drug plan to pick up the remainder of the year on my Zytiga prescription. I felt like I had dodged a bullet. One often wonders at what cost is this extra life to your family. What cost is too much, you ponder.
Difference between life and death
I, like many I know, struggle to figure out a way to remain in treatment and remain with your loved ones as long as humanly possible. It saddens me to see how big drug companies leave many poor families without options for treatment or prescriptions.
These very treatments and medical drugs are the difference between life and death for many cancer patients. It is imperative that patients and family members reach out to as many people and foundations as possible while never giving up hope.
What was the most difficult part of your diagnosis?