A Different Type of Cover Reveal

2019 is not going as planned.

This year, my sweet Billy was supposed to retire, then we were supposed to sell our house here in east Texas and move closer to home in central Texas. By now, we were supposed to be watching our new home becoming a reality, and by late next month, we were supposed to be moving in.

Well, Billy retired April 8, and that’s as far as we got.

In March, my mammogram showed a suspicious lump not bigger than the nail-bed on my pinkie finger, and the biopsy proved it to be cancerous. The pathology report said it was ER positive and HER2 positive. If you’ve had breast cancer before, you might be familiar with these terms. The positive reading on the estrogen receptors isn’t too bad, but the HER2 protein being positive is scary. That’s what makes the type of cancer I have more aggressive. According to the pathology report after the lumpectomy in April, 15% of the cells were reproducing. HER2 positive cancer is invasive and can come back anywhere in the body.

Complication and frustration never-ending

The news wasn’t all bad at first. Good news is, HER2 positive cancer is treatable. And, according to the oncologist, my numbers are good: only an 8-14% chance this could return after radiation and five years on an estrogen blocking drug—meaning there’s a 86-92% chance it won’t return.

I took comfort in those words from my oncologist and thought I’d avoid chemo treatments, until I talked to the radiologist. She managed to scare me silly, reminding me this is the second time I’ve had breast cancer, which illustrates my body’s propensity to produce cancer cells. Oh, goodie. She indicated that chemo is a must for me: it’s either a 100% survival rate now or, within five years or so, talking about how much time I have left.

So now, I want the chemo, but—according to the oncologist—because of the severity of my Crohn’s disease, I can’t have it. Complications from Crohn’s nearly did me in twice already, and the chemo is almost guaranteed to cause a flare-up.

But there’s a med, Herceptin, that targets the HER2 protein. (Actually, there are several meds, but I think Herceptin is the newest.) It’s not a chemo drug, but it is administered along with a chemo, and that protocol—Herceptin + chemo—is approved by the FDC. Question is, will the insurance pay for Herceptin alone? My oncologist is trying to find out. Some insurances will. There’s a chance mine won’t, but we’re going to ask for an exception based on the Crohn’s problem. Trust me. This has been a slow process.

But that’s not all

Radiation is a definite must, along with a drug like Tamoxifen, which targets the hormone receptors (the ER part of the cancer). Neither does anything for any HER2 protein cells that might have escaped the lumpectomy, though, and since my margins weren’t clean afterward, this makes me nervous. But I still need to get the radiation. And, again, there are complications and frustrations.

Like I said, Billy retired in April and got on Medicare, leaving me alone on our insurance policy–which we got through his company, but now are paying for through COBRA. Our joint policy stopped at the end of April, so everything up to that point was covered and the deductible had been met. According to the powers that be, everything was supposed to ride along with me to my own insurance policy. Just a continuation, they said. But I got a new number and am not recognized in their system yet.

That means, #1, those who can find me in the system say that I haven’t paid anything toward the deductible, and #2, I can’t get approved for radiation because my account isn’t recognized.

Granted, the hospital is working with the insurance to fix the problem, but this is June and the cancer was discovered in March. I’m getting a tad antsy to start treatment.

What all this means to you

I’ve debated for months over just how public I wanted to make this news. It’s not like it’s a secret, really. I’ve told my street team and newsletter subscribers along with most of the folks I know personally. I don’t know why I haven’t announced it here, just as I have all the other challenges I’ve faced over the years. But making it public—this public—just didn’t feel right.

Then, it dawned on me. I have a message to spread. Get tested.

This post is about me and my breast cancer, and I imagine there are a whole lot of women out there ready to give me the secret pink-ribbon handshake into an exclusive club.

But cancer is evil. Any kind of cancer. Prostate cancer is just as deadly as breast cancer—and just as survivable if caught early. So is colon cancer. Ovarian cancer, cervical cancer. Many cancers are treatable now, but the secret is to catch them early. Get tested.

Here’s the deal: As frustrating as everything has been so far, I’m still in pretty good shape because we found the tumor early. It was tiny, and only a miniscule part of the margin showed up “not clear.” I have an 86-92% chance of the cancer not returning if all I do is take the pill and get radiation. That percentage improves considerably if I get some form of a Her2 protein-targeting drug. Herceptin isn’t the only one. If I can’t get that one, maybe I can get another.

Most folks don’t discover their problems while in the midst of doing retirement paperwork. Most folks don’t have to worry about whether their insurance will cover their treatment. Most folks don’t have other medical conditions that affect and complicate their treatment options.

In other words: Most folks aren’t like me and have fewer excuses–especially if they’re insured, because insurance usually pays for cancer screening. Get tested.

If you live in a human body, get tested.

Increase your odds of survival.

Schedule it today.

 

 

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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39 Responses to A Different Type of Cover Reveal

  1. RobbyeFaye says:

    Linda, I’m so sorry you are going through this. It’s bad enough to have something wrong, then insurance companies and their games get involved…(been there with family members way too many times).
    Praying for a quick resolution.
    Prayers and blessings~💖🙏

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  2. Continuing to pray …

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  3. Joan Vanden Noven says:

    Linda, so sorry that you have to go through this but you have a good outlook on life and now we need to get insurance on board. Prayers and love to you. Hugs also.

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  4. You know I’ve been praying for you, girl. I second Linda’s order. Get a mammo yearly. I haven’t had cancer but have had several biopsies over the years. The most recent one in 2017. It’s no picnic and the last biopsy hurt like crazy. I’ll spare the details.

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  5. janetgrunst says:

    I’m sorry you are dealing with this, Linda. I’ve gone through the frustration and expense of being uninsurable before going on medicare. I will be praying for you to be able to get the treatment you need with a minimum of hassle. I am praying whatever protocol you get will rid you of cancer and that you will tolerate it well. May the Great Healer hold you close on this journey.

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    • Thank you, Janet. I appreciate your prayers.

      Being uninsurable is terrifying, isn’t it? I have three more years before I can go on Medicare, and the insurance through COBRA lasts for two. Trusting God for that third year.

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  6. Rachelle Levasseur Van Ryssen says:

    I cover you in prayers, Linda. We will fight together and come out even better. ❤

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  7. gwynnrogers says:

    I am terribly sorry that you are faced with this trauma. I have had a friend deal with breast and colon cancer. It was a tough fight, but she WON! You will to, just keep positive. However, I wish you luck in dealing with the insurance companies. I ONLY have Medicare and dealing with the government too is a nightmare. I’m sending GOOD VIBRATIONS your way!

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  8. Stacy Simmons says:

    Praying and sending hugs, Linda!!

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  9. Pegg Thomas says:

    I love you to pieces. And I got my mam done yesterday. You’re so right about getting tested. It’s an inconvenience that saves lives!

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  10. So sorry you’re going through this. Prayers for peace, comfort, strength and complete healing and restoration going heavenward for you!

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  11. Naomi Musch says:

    Thank you, Linda. Keep spreading your message! I had my mammo last week and get my pap next week. Oh joy. But hey! I am SO thankful for these tests. Love ya, girl.

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  12. Life is sure giving you some challenges. Praying for a quick and easy resolution and cure, my sweet friend. You deserve it.

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  13. Sherrie Speidel says:

    Linda, my heart goes out to you in so many ways. I, too, had breast cancer in 1993 DCIS they called it. I was good to do my monthly checkups. My heart sank when I felt the pea sized lump in the shower…and certainly not at 35 years old. I didn’t have radiation nor chemotherapy, but to lose my breast to this monster was mean. I’ve had a few implants replaced and not the same. But, thank God I’m still here with my family. I will remember you in prayer Linda. And all of us women who have been chosen to walk our own special walk because God knew we could handle it. Much love, Sherrie

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    • Thank you, Sherrie. My first time around was DCIS too, and I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d stayed on the Tamoxifen. But it got lost in all the horrible things that were happening during those years. It was still too new to me, and I just flat forgot about it. Bet I won’t forget this time around!

      Like

  14. Gail Johnson says:

    I’m praying for you. 💕

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  15. I drank in every word of every line and thank you so much for sharing your story here. I send love and support and will schedule testing this Monday, in honor of the magnanimous heart behind this post. All prayers for you.

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  16. carrieturansky says:

    Hi Linda, I just saw your post shared on Facebook by one of our friends. I’m so sorry you are going through this challenging cancer journey. I also have Crohn’s and I’m going through chemo treatments for colon cancer now. The Lord has been so faithful to bring me helpful information and support from friends and family. I’m listening to a free webinar series this week called the Anti-Cancer Revolution. It is a combination of conventional and integrative/natural approaches to beating cancer. I think you might like to listen to Dr Jill Carnahan’s talk. She is a believer who survived breast cancer and healed from Crohn’s. It’s only available free for 24 hours, then you have to pay for the set of talks. https://anticancerrevolution.com/expert/jill-carnahan/ I’ve also appreciated info about adjusting diet, especially during treatments from Valter Longo out of University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute. He has a book: The Longevity Diet that talks specifically about using a fasting mimicking diet for five days around treatment to make it more effective and minimize side affects. Not a water only fast, but a lower calorie fast with specific types of foods. I’ve followed that and it seems to be helping me. I’m also taking several supplements recommended by Heather Paulson and Neil McKinny Researchers and Naturopathic Oncologists. One of the most important things so many are telling me is to have a positive attitude, visualize coming through and healing completely, and trusting the Lord for His grace and strength. I will pray for you and look forward to updates.

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