Hello to you. How are you doing? Me? Well I had another one of my f-d up and kind of gory dreams. Thankfully it was short, unlike the dream from the night before last!
The dream I had the night before last (Thursday) was like a montage of subjects compressed together all leading to a gory conclusion. It started out with my brother-in-law and his husband, something about bathrooms, candles, picking up tiny yellow glowing seed-like things in the dark and then watching something out of a horror movie. A blonde man with like a circle intentionally stuck into himself, which made me think of Christ watching this, and there was blood everywhere. Then there was this horrible scene, like in Dracula, and I heard a man’s voice say, “He’s almost there!” Then I watched the bloody corpse of a man reconstituting himself from the dead. It was so vivid. I could hear the wet, squishy sound of eyeballs growing back into their sockets etc. Pretty gross! My mind seemed to be processing a bunch of themes from my waking world that have to do with religion.
The dream from last night/this morning was, as I said very short but gory and vivid too. There was a naked woman lying on an operating table on her side and she had bleeding wounds. Her skin was discolored like has been described of Black Plague victims. I could hear her ragged breathing but they said she was dead. They were leaving her to die.
The second dream I believe was triggered by reading letters from my friend detailing a very sad commentary on what it can be for some diagnosed with advanced cancer late in life. What is being accounted to me is my friends daughter-in-laws mother, Karen, has been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer at age 79. She has become quite weak and they aren’t sure if she would have the strength to endure chemotherapy. From what I’ve been reading of this ordeal, it seems the medical establishment has basically told her there is nothing they can do for her and she should just go home and die.
Who decides when the cancer fight is over?
If you have a lot of money and the right connections or live in a country that offers better healthcare, it seems you can literally buy yourself more time. For the average person who gets such a diagnosis, like Karen…..it seems to be over when “they” (medical establishment and insurers) say it is!
For me, if I were in such a situation? It’s easy to say what one would want or what one would do but I’m not actually going through such a horrific ordeal!
What I think I would want is to be able to be home with my family, my stuff, sleep in my bed, smoke vast quantities of great pot and be able to take great pain medication if I needed it. I would want to spend whatever remaining time I had doing things with the people (and animals) I love and not be hooked up to an IV dripping chemo in a sterile hospital room.
Do we have a choice? It seems like Karen hasn’t really been given one, like a death panel already convened for her without her even having a say! What if she wants to fight with the usual treatments?
Who decides when the cancer fight is over?
I found these links and a good article with information on this issue if you are interested:
http://theoncologist.alphamedpress.org/content/5/3/224.full – Management of Cancer in the Older Person: A Practical Approach
Rising health care costs leave a growing number of cancer patients – both uninsured or with insurance – without the financial coverage they need, says Dr. Richy Agajanian, M.D. of the Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation.
“We spend a lot of time with our patients talking about options based on what they can and can’t afford. As doctors, we are constantly juggling what’s best for patients versus what they can afford. Whether or not health care reform will help fix this problem remains to be seen.”
One in eight people with advanced cancer turned down recommended care because of the cost, according to a new analysis from Kaiser Foundation. And one in four cancer patients or their families said they used up all or most of their savings to pay for treatment.
Financial obstacles cancer patients face include:
Many of the medical advances that allow cancer patients to live longer come at a high cost. New, more effective drugs are being developed all the time, drugs that are extremely effective in cancer treatment. However, some of the newer drugs cost upwards of $10,000 a month, prices most uninsured people can’t afford. Even patients who do have insurance often have to pay 20 to 40% of that cost.
Cost of treatment
Just like with drug costs, the cost of cancer is astronomical. Treatment costs, deductibles and co-pays put cancer care out of reach for many. “Every year co-pays increase,” says Agajanian. Additionally, he says, managed care is cutting treatments by 20% to 30% with higher co-payments.
Health insurance companies often charge higher premiums or deny coverage for those who have chronic pre-existing conditions like cancer. Health insurance reform will prevent any insurance company from denying coverage based on an underlying health status, including cancer, according to healthreform.gov, the government’s official website for information on health care reform.
Doctor Agajanian is skeptical, but hopeful. “I don’t know what will happen. My hope is that patients will be insured or reimbursed more. There are millions of patients who need but don’t have insurance, with chronic conditions like cancer who desperately need it. Patients without insurance end up in the emergency room, and often die of cancer.”
Even those who do have insurance sometimes can’t get treatment, because their insurance company denies payments. In an attempt to help these patients, Agajanian has six people on his staff who fight insurance companies who have denied treatment, and try to get coverage or reimbursement for cancer patients. “An 80-year-old woman will not fight the insurance company alone,” Agajanian says. “We do it on behalf of our patients, although it’s time-consuming and expensive.
Further complicating the issue is Medicare, which authorizes some treatments, but not others. And if a doctor gives a treatment that Medicare deems “inappropriate,” the doctor will be audited.
If people, including elders, received their recommended cancer screenings, not only would the projected cost of treatment be reduced by catching the cancer early, but thousands of lives would be saved. According to healthcare.gov, health insurance reform will ensure that all Americans have access to free preventive services through their health plans.
The future of cancer treatment for the elderly
What does the future hold, in particular with health care reform on the horizon? “I think there will be difficult times ahead,” Agajanian says. “If costs don’t come down, many patients won’t be able to get the treatment they need, and doctors might have to cut down the number of clinics to provide quality care and cover costs.
The increasing cost of health care raises complex questions related to cancer treatment and the impact the lack of affordable treatment will have on society.
The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation has five locations in the Los Angeles area, all specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of types of cancer, as well as prevention and education. For more information, visit www.theoncologyinstitute.com .