The Cost of Hope: The Story of a Marriage, a Family, and the Quest for Life

September 16, 2012
Katherine Lagomarsino

CURE, Fall 2012, Volume 11, Issue 3

The Cost of Hope: The Story of a Marriage, a Family, and the Quest for Life

The total medical cost for keeping Terence Bryan Foley alive during seven years of dealing with a rare kidney cancer: $618,616. In The Cost of Hope, Amanda Bennett, now an executive editor at Bloomberg News and a former bureau chief at The Wall Street Journal, attempts to not only unravel these tangled expenses that make up her late-husband’s medical bills, the majority of which their insurance covered, but also to get to the bottom of the hundreds of medical decisions they made along the way—and to determine whether they were the right ones.

Despite having a business journalist’s acumen and a Pulitzer Prize, Bennett, like most Americans, became mired in complex billing statements that make it nearly impossible to decipher, for example, the cost of a typical computed tomography (CT) scan. (Foley had 76 throughout the course of his illness.) As it turns out, there is no such thing as a typical CT scan cost. Because Bennett’s jobs required her to relocate several times, she discovered wild variations, from $550 to $3,232, depending on the hospital and the insurance that they had at the time.

But The Cost of Hope is far from an itemized list of medical costs or a commentary on the state of the American healthcare system. In fact, much of that remains in the background. Most of the book revolves around two brilliant, strong-willed people and their tumultuous yet loving 20-year marriage. And even though Bennett, at times, flexes her journalistic muscle as she delves into their shared past and her husband’s cancer diagnosis, she is still a compassionate caregiver who grapples with her tireless and often desperate efforts to buy her husband more time before she becomes his grieving widow. Indeed, this is a book that will resonate with cancer patients and caregivers alike.