Answering Tough Questions
May 27, 2020 – Sonia Su
'Not Our Daughters,' Vows a Survivor of Lymphoma Caused by Breast Implants
May 26, 2020 – Roxane Vermeland
Reflecting on COVID-19 as a Person with Cancer
May 25, 2020 – Gogs Gagnon
The Cue Card Patients with Cancer Hold During a Global Pandemic: Emotional Regulation
May 18, 2020 – Bethany Davis, LSWAIC
A True Meaning of Love
May 12, 2020 – Amanda Ferraro
May 11, 2020 – Robin Marie Lavery
The COVID-19 Diary of the University of Colorado Cancer Center
May 06, 2020 – Dr. D. Ross Camidge
Resilience Hope and Being a Survivor
April 20, 2020 – Susan Bethel
As Cancer Care Evolves, Patient Empowerment Must be a Priority
April 13, 2020 – Susan Stewart
My COVID Nightmare
April 12, 2020 – Catherine Lieuwen

The Force Is Strong With Cancer Survivors: Joining My Rebel Alliance

When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, I envisioned myself in a galaxy far, far away. Just like any well-trained Jedi, I fought back when insurance denied my claim for doctor-recommended treatment.
BY Alyssa Castro
PUBLISHED June 21, 2019
When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, I envisioned myself in a galaxy far, far away.

You see, I am a big “Star Wars” fan. What I love most is its story: A group of rebels bands together to take on an evil empire. An unlikely cast of characters – a princess, a Wookiee, a pilot, and a Jedi Knight – team up to fight the dark side by any means necessary. My own story played out similarly.

When I received my diagnosis, I had to fight both cancer and my insurer for access to the treatment my doctor recommended. Now that I'm cancer-free, I've joined my own “rebel alliance”, the Alliance for Proton Therapy Access, which is dedicated to fighting improper insurance denials and restoring the balance of power between patients and their insurers.

I wanted to join their fight because I was diagnosed with cancer at age 25. Initially, I received chemotherapy. As a side effect of the treatment, my white blood cell count became low. My oncologist gave me the option to pursue radiation, and a dear friend and fellow patient told me about proton therapy. On her suggestion, I visited Ackerman Cancer Center, where I found a cancer care team that valued my health and survival above all else. Together, we decided that I would receive proton therapy, a precise form of radiation that targets cancerous cells and limits radiation exposure to healthy tissues.

Unfortunately, my insurance company disagreed and denied me proton therapy treatment. Just like any well-trained Jedi, I fought back and when my doctor appealed my case, my insurer approved my access to proton therapy.

As we celebrated National Cancer Survivors' Day earlier this month, I've reflected on the journey that brought me here. I know all too well that fighting cancer is tough and tiresome and all a patient should have to worry about is the diagnosis, not an improper insurance denial.

Since working with my new rebel alliance, I've learned that, like me, many patients' insurers improperly delay and deny their access to doctor-recommended treatment. I credit a positive attitude and faith in God for getting me through both my cancer and insurance fights. I have tried to hold onto hope even in my darkest moments. It was the hardest Jedi mind trick I ever attempted but, in the end, I succeeded.

As a Jedi Master, I'm passing along this message to Padawans in the hopes that they understand they can beat cancer, too!
Be the first to discuss this article on CURE's forum. >>
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Financial Topics CURE discussion group.

Related Articles


Sign In

Not a member? Sign up now!

Sign Up

Are you a member? Please Log In