Chapter 28: Back to school, the cost of healthcare and being cancer-free

And just like that we have a 10th grader and a 7th grader. Wow. The summers go by so fast and before you know it we are once again knee-deep in bus schedules, homework, band practice and football practice. I need to heed the DON’T BLINK advice.


First Day of School 2017

The patient is back to 100% and we are thrilled. One of his big work projects every year is the Wyndham golf tournament (his company provides the signage & graphics) so August was a blip as Don worked long hours leading up to the event. You would not have known he had his abdomen sliced open a mere 6 weeks earlier! He has commented that he really feels good, which I think means he didn’t realize how poorly he was feeling before the diagnosis. Speaking of 6 weeks, another thing worth noting right now are the umpteen medical bills and insurance statements that are rolling in. It looks like this spring and summer brought Don medical care to the tune of about $235,000. We pay a pretty penny for medical insurance through his employer, but I can assure you we have not had to pay anything like that! We are fortunate to have the privilege and ease to acquire decent medical insurance. It’s not cheap (does such a thing exist?) but it’s available to us; unlike so many in our country. Without insurance we could very easily be like thousands of other families in the US who end up filing bankruptcy due to medical bills. This scenario is not a good one. Our healthcare and insurance systems needs to be fixed.

Last week Don saw Dr. Feng, his local oncologist. It was a good visit and she was glad to see the reports from his surgery and time at Duke. He asked what his status was now, since before surgery he was stage 4, so what is it now that the tumor load is gone? She said he could be cancer-free, depending on what his upcoming scan at Duke tells us. We do know that there are two tiny lesions on his liver that the surgeon did not remove, so we will stay on the lookout for those. But if they are tiny and stay tiny, the nature of this disease is that they will not cause any symptoms; which could be considered “cancer-free” or “NED (no evidence of disease).” This is exciting! We are eager for the info that will be revealed from the September scan. As I have mentioned before, we know from online support groups that many neuroendocrine cancer patients live for decades with this disease. Oftentimes those folks are NED for a big chunk of that time. We certainly hope and pray this will be the case for Don. He will most likely resume the monthly sandostatin shots, because in addition to eliminating symptoms they also reduce growth of existing tumors (aka lesions). Thank you for all of the prayers and support as we navigate what is ahead.

I discovered this great song at my 30th reunion (see last blog post) and it fits this chapter we are in. Even more special, it’s written and recorded by some childhood friends (Alan Schaefer, Robert Schaefer and their band Five Star Iris). I’m sorry you cannot hear Alan sing it live in person, but it’s still worth a listen!

Luckiest Man (click to listen)
The first time in your life you were on the other side of a blue light special
You searched the aisles for a sign the bargain of your life to buy the impossible
You reached for the box of faith and everything around it way up high on the shelf
It was there all the time in the corner of your mind you needed a reason to find it

There goes the luckiest man alive – He just bought more time – He just bought the future
There goes the luckiest man alive – He just bought more time – Hey lucky man – Where’d you buy the time?

The light they sent to find you falls behind never leaving your side
Reminded by the fight unexpected prize the greatest gift is another day

We all take life for granted – A shame counting on second chances
Sometimes we get sometimes we don’t unless we pray



Luckiest Man