In August of 2005, I was in excellent health, but I wanted to be prepared, should anything "bad" ever happen. So...after several months of research, I found a health insurance policy that was cheaper and better than the one I had (100 percent coverage instead of only 80 percent, with a lower deductible and even a slightly lower monthly rate). Wahoo! I dropped the old policy, switched to the new one, and patted myself on the back for being so responsible and budget-conscious.
Shortly after that, I went in for my annual mammogram, and in September of 2005, SURPRISE!, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Scared out of my wits and knowing next to nothing about breast cancer, I rushed to the first surgeon who was recommended to me, and within weeks I'd had two separate operations: 1) a lumpectomy, and 2) a sentinel node biopsy. (Keep in mind that I'd never had ANY kind of an operation in my life. I'd never even spent the night in a hospital, not even when I gave birth to my son; I did a homebirth with a midwife. So I was very frightened. I felt stupidly uninformed. I also felt rushed, panicky and powerless.)
After the surgeries, I began the process of racing around to see all sorts of different doctors, because the surgeries were only the beginning. In a few weeks time I saw more doctors than I'd seen in my whole LIFE. It was mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausting. I barely had time for ANYthing else (i.e. earning a living, for one thing). Chaos ensued. The rest of my life began to fall apart as I tried to prepare myself for 8 to 12 weeks of chemotherapy followed by about as many weeks of radiation followed by up to five years or more of taking heavy duty toxic drugs (Tamoxifen or Arimidex) that I knew would wreak havoc on my hormonal system.
I was scheduled to start chemo in November, as soon as I'd healed from the second surgery. I went out and bought a wig. I also had my hair cut really short, in preparation for going bald.
Three days before I was supposed to have a third surgery to get a "porta-cath" inserted in my chest prior to receiving my first round of "dose dense" chemo, I received a certified letter from my health insurance company (HealthNet) one Friday afternoon, saying that they were suspending my insurance coverage until they conducted an investigation to see if I might have had a pre-existing condition when I applied for their insurance. (Why did they approve it in the first place, if they suspected a pre-existing condition? And why did they wait until three days before my chemo to start this little investigation?)
There was no way I could move forward without health insurance, so I called a screeching halt to everything. However, once I got over my initial surge of fear, rage, frustration and depression, I noticed that I felt wildly relieved - and I realized that I was relieved because I'd been having serious doubts about doing the chemo but had been too afraid to speak up, to go against all the advice I'd been given by the "experts." When the SYSTEM plunked me down on the chemo-radiation-tamoxifen conveyor belt, I had allowed myself be carried along. . . even though my intuitions and instincts were urging me to reconsider, to slow down, and to explore other options before making such gigantic decisions. I felt powerless in the face of patronizing doctors who issued orders and ultimatums rather than offering to sit down with me and discuss options (the true, wide RANGE of options — not just the mainstream, one-size-fits-all options), and answer questions (with more than perfunctory answers).
So. My fucked-up insurance company inadvertently did me a favor, because once I got that certified letter, everything changed. I stepped off the path I was on and began searching for a new one.
In-between leaving the old path and finding that new one, I wandered and floundered and freaked out many many times.
Slowly but surely, though, I DID find a new and, for me, better path. I also reclaimed my power and my right to have a BIG say-so in my "treatment and healing protocol." That's what this blog has turned out to be all about (as of June 2007).
If you'd like to read my story from the the beginning, all you have to do is go to my archives, either by clicking here or by clicking on the word "archives" that's in the red bar at the top of the archives section in the righthand sidebar.