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PENNILESS AFTER CANCER
I was a nurse at a small outpatient chemo/infusion center when my husband was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. We had decent insurance through my employer. Over the course of his three-year battle with this disease he had several courses of chemo as well as two major surgeries. The copays, deductibles and noncovered expenses mounted. We had to make frequent visits to his surgeon, which was six hours round-trip. I was his only caregiver, and I lost a lot of work hours during all this, and eventually had to stop working altogether during his last year in order to care for him. The medical bills were terrible, but the loss of wages was the thing that pushed us over the edge financially. I knew how to dig for assistance from various charities; there just wasn’t much available for us. I emptied all my (meager) retirement accounts to live on, but even that was not enough. The only way we survived was by the goodness of friends and strangers, who supported us through fundraising and just the kindness of their hearts.
A terrible, stressful time was made even more so by the constant worry of how to keep a roof over our heads. I have a friend going through the same thing, and it seems like a large amount of her time is taken by organizing fundraisers for her husband. She always has two or three going.
I had burial insurance on my husband, but due to other health issues, I was never able to get any kind of policy for him that would have left any cushion for “after.” Now he is gone, and I am left basically penniless and starting over at age 55. My story is not unique.
Your story “A Virtual Safety Net” was informative. But what I would like to add is: Why should this even be necessary? Why should people who have worked hard all their lives be put in the position to beg others for help — which is exactly what we have to do — when in such a dire situation? Whatever your political views, I guarantee that if you were to live through a similar situation, you would be rethinking single-payer medical care and government assistance.
Linda Glombowski, RNCLYDE, MICHIGAN
FACTS ABOUT DISEASE ARE HARD TO ABSORB
The letter to the editor in the Winter 2017 magazine titled “Living in Different Worlds” really resonated with me! Herb Skovronek sure hit the nail on the head!!
My husband passed just this January after almost seven years of dealing with doctors and hospitals. I went with him to every appointment and we were prepared ahead of time as much as possible with lists of questions. But as Herb pointed out, doctors are under pressure to move patients along. We were lucky because my husband had a gift and was able to connect personally with almost every health professional we dealt with. So we probably got more than our share of their time. And we connected with the social worker, too. We were also lucky in that we were on solid ground financially.
But wading through all the information out there is a gargantuan task. Even educated people have much difficulty with this. I have a master’s degree from Northwestern University and am fairly intelligent. My husband was an electrical engineer — also intelligent. But we found educating ourselves an almost overwhelming task at a time when medical treatments and pain medication created their own emotional and physical challenges.
Becky RosackerCHICAGO, ILLINOIS
‘CURE’ IS A BEAUTIFUL WORD
At 55, I am a 27-year Hodgkin lymphoma survivor, a two-year triple-negative ductal carcinoma survivor (and yes, my bilateral breast reconstruction was done with rough-surface silicone implants...not encouraging), and I have had several basal cell skin cancers removed in areas that were aggressively radiated during the Hodgkin treatments.
The Spring 2017 volume 16, No. 2 is the first issue of CURE® I have read. I appreciate that the articles and information are presented realistically, yet in a positive way. I find CURE® uplifting and informative, clarifying questions I want to ask my doctor.
I had several complications with the Hodgkin and then even more with the breast cancer. I feel reassured reading about individuals who are living with cancer and making the most of it.
The comment from a patient in the article “Life Redefined” about making two lists, one for what she will do if she gets bad news and one for if she gets good news, has reminded me that I am in control, regardless of what the next test may bring my way.
I have been developing my own list of how I will handle things in the event I get a “bad” report again, as well as how I would like and need others to support me. In the meantime, I have made sure to savor the moments — to spend more time with my family, loving, listening and thanking more.
God brought me through two very dark, long battles, and I have survived. I have the scars, physical and emotional, as well as other reminders of where I have been. I do my best to move forward and live day by day, giving it my all. I am a mother of four adult children, and I have one granddaughter. They have been my reason to survive.
I also teach at a rural school in Colorado. The teaching staff pulled together, donating sick days and making sure my classes were covered.
I pray I have seen the last of cancer treatments and surgeries, but am reassured by the information about research and clinical trials that you share.
Cure is a beautiful word; it gives hope. I look forward to your next issue and recommend it to anyone touched by cancer.
Cindy HotopCOLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO