I’d like nothing better than to be able to stop griping about things going wrong.
But then… things would have to stop going wrong, wouldn’t they?
Today I was hit by a reminder that at times life can feel like little more than a numbers game.
My medical oncologist decided yesterday, without conferring with me at all, to prescribe hormonal therapy (HT). I was just given the Rx, without explanation, at the end of my herceptin infusion during the oncology nurse’s post-session instructions to me.
I didn’t immediately react. Partly because I knew it was coming; my breast surgeon had pre-alerted me months earlier. Partly because I didn’t yet know what questions to ask and I was already fatigued from the session. Partly because the nurse was not the right person to ask anyway. And, partly because I clearly recall the oncologist once remarking that HT was not as expensive as the other treatments.
I’ve been taking a “cross that bridge when I get to it” approach to this series of preventive anti-cancer treatments. It’s served me well in not getting overwhelmed with all the information I’ve chosen to digest about the various treatments I’ve undergone and have yet to undergo.
One step at a time… is one of my longstanding mantras.
I could, instead, have opted to leave all decisions in the hands of the medical experts treating me. Many patients seem to be satisfied to do that.
But if I’ve learned anything over the past six months (if not my entire lifetime), it’s the importance of being my own advocate. The way I know to do that, to keep some semblance of control over this process, this process that mostly affects only me and my disappointing body, is to listen carefully to this one-and-only body I have and then to try to understand the myriad of options open to me.
A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.Plato
It’s not easy. It’s not easy to stay evidence-based, not to get distracted by unscientific agendas and theories—the science is complex enough. It’s not easy to decide when the science seems inadequate to provide clear direction.
And it’s effing more difficult when a decision I must make is muddied by cost factors on top of what is increasingly looking like a crap shoot to me:
Everything I am subjecting my body to—from the lumpectomy to the chemo treatments to herceptin infusions to radiation therapy to hormonal therapy—gives me no guarantees.
I’m told there is no way to measure whether my body even needs any of it, whether any of the treatments are healing me, or whether any of it will keep me harmless from future cancer; there are no simple markers to test for.
It’s a numbers game: the science says on average this is the way to go and the numbers (statistics) are (admittedly) stacked in my favor.
Yet it could all be for naught. I have to let this thought go or it will drive me bonkers.
Life is a chess match. Every decision that you make has a consequence to it.P.K. Subban
So back to my story today and how this all fits together.
My honey went out to get the prescribed HT for me. He not only had to go to three different drug stores before finding the particular HT prescribed in stock (and only one box), but he came home thoroughly dismayed with a receipt for over Peso 10K (that’s about US$200)! That’s for only 28 daily pills, not even a full month! Hellooo! I’m set to take this pill daily for five years!
Adding this cost on top of the many other medical expenses we’re in for adds financial distress to the physical and emotional distress.
My first move was to ask my oncologist to confirm that we had bought the correct medicine. We had.
I shared with him our shock at the price and asked whether there was an alternative. There is. And it’s a fraction of the cost. But it’s not as effective.
I spent hours researching online to confirm what he told me in a few chat words and to increase my understanding of the how and why. I have a dreadfully difficult decision to make.
At the end of the day, the success or failure of my decision will not depend on the numbers. But I have so little else to base it on.
And that opens a vulnerability that takes me beyond my comfort zone, a comfort zone that is already wide and deep.
Sigh; deep, deep sigh.
You write your life story by the choices you make. You never know if they have been a mistake. Those moments of decision are so difficult.Helen Mirren