Thursday, October 15, 2015


If having cancer has done anything, it has assured me that I am officially an adult. Which is sort of ironic because I'm being treated on a pediatric protocol, but that's not the point. I've always loved it when my mom volunteered to take care of things for me, and she still does. But when you're an adult, and your mom is making important phone calls for you, that's sort of weird. So today, no matter how much I hate making phone calls, I did it. All by myself. Like a grownup. And let me assure you, there is nothing in this world I hate more than making phone calls. Okay, maybe cancer, but phone calls are pretty close below that. So let me tell you all about my phone calls today.

First I had to call the insurance company to figure out if I was supposed to pay my giant bill from OHSU. I don't understand how insurance companies work, so I said a lot of really confusing things, and eventually the lady just decided she needed to explain to me how insurance works, and I thank her for that. You don't ever have to understand insurance until you're sick, then you need to understand it, and no one really takes the time to fully explain it to you. Turns out that giant bill from OHSU was just my co-pay, and if I wasn't insured I would have been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars instead. Once I was done talking to her, she transferred me to another person in the insurance world to fix a problem I thought I had, and I waited for 30 minutes on hold. While I was holding I got another phone call. Am I the only person, who when my phone tells me I've got a call waiting, I always hit the wrong button and hang up on both people? Because that's what I did.

The other phone call was from the nurse at OHSU responding to an email I had sent this morning about scheduling an appointment somewhere, because I need to have the dressing on my PICC line changed and I need to have a shot on or around Saturday, and I am supposed to be seeing a doctor in Eugene now, but getting in touch with them has been no easy task. So, I talked to her and she assured me that I needed to talk with Dr. Sharman or a nurse at his office to get things rolling immediately in Eugene because not only do I have those things that need to be done (PICC line and shot) but because I'm in remission (yes, you read that right, I'm in remission- there is no trace of the disease in my bone marrow) I need to start my next round of chemotherapy, the consolidation phase, yesterday. You read that right too, apparently I was supposed to start yesterday. So obviously, when I get off the phone with her, I'm not done with my phone calls.

My next phone call is to Dr. Sharman's office. The operator gives me the option of speaking to scheduling or a nurse, and I got really excited because a nurse might understand my situation a little better, so now I'm finally talking to a nurse at Dr. Sharman's office!! Yay! The second she answers the phone I get probably the worse anxiety I've ever had in my life. I'm trying to explain to her who I am, and what I have, and why I'm calling, and how important it is that I get an appointment in the next couple of days, and that my medical records are somewhere and that I'm on a very complicated protocol.... All while barely being able to form sentences, my voice is shaking like a leaf, I'm sweating and shaking, and I'm basically making no sense at all. She was so sweet, and I eventually made enough sense for her to figure out what to do next, except she had to look for my medical records and told me she would call me back later. Whew, phone call done, anxiety slowly dissipating and only one phone call left!

Last phone call, I'm cool as a cucumber, she finally gets all of my information in their system, she knows that I need to be seen soon, except... the doctors next available appointment is on the 22nd. Well that's not going to work! She moves some things around, and thinks she can get me in sometime on Monday, but is double checking with the doctor and will call me back tomorrow to let me know. And that's where we stand right now. Hopefully on Monday I will get my shot and my PICC line dressing changed, and I might start the consolidation phase of my chemo. That means I will get another lumbar puncture with intrathecal chemotheraphy, as well as the chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide and cytarabine IV (through my fancy PICC line). If I am starting the consolidation phase, that also means that I will be going to Eugene 4 days in a row, because I am supposed to get cytarabine 4 days in a row, which is really going to knock me down hard. So I guess I better take advantage of how good I feel right now (it's been a week since I've had any chemotherapy, and 2 weeks since I've had any chemotherapy that makes me feel like crap).

So, today, after spending far too much time on the phone, I am feeling like an adult. Thanks a lot, cancer.


  1. I'm so happy to hear that you are in remission. I hope you get the appointment on Monday and that all those multi-syllabic, unpronounceable medications work for you.
    Everyone at the board meeting last night wishes you well.

    1. Thank you Bill, and Please send my thank you's to the board for the beautiful flowers!

  2. I spent over 14 years watching my sister battle cancer. She didn't want anyone to worry so she tried to hide all the pain, anguish, and everything that goes with it and the treatment. Guess what, we worried anyway. It was hard knowing she was not telling us everything but trying to respect her wishes by not pressing. Way too much talking in secret. I can't find the words to express how wonderful to see you share this moment of time with the people that love and care for you. I believe it will make all of you stronger and allow the people that support you to be more effective and not intrusive. Get better soon. There are a bunch of 5th graders that will be ready for you next year.

    1. Thank you so much Dan, I can't imagine going through this in secret, I need all the help and support I can get from all the wonderful people in my life! I can't wait to get back to work next school year!