Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dear President Obama...

Dear President Obama,

If anyone had told me that I would be spending the first few years of my marriage dealing with, battling, and advocating for a life threatening illness I would have never believed them. What I just described is something that happens on TV, something that happens to other people. Diagnosed in October 2007 at the age of thirty-three with Ovarian Cancer my reality up until then would be forever altered. In addition to wondering what my life would be like without early detection, I often wonder what my life would have been like without "quality" health insurance.

You, Mr. President are in the midst of what I imagine to be the biggest battle of your life. A fight to rectify the state of our economy and a fight to make sure that every America citizen has access to quality and affordable health care. I write this letter to say this, keep doing what you're doing.

I've been fortunate to have health insurance throughout my entire life. I am also fortunate because I understand the ramifications of not having adequate coverage. My cancer treatment included two surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and numerous office visits, blood draws, and scans. The sum total being somewhere between three and four hundred thousand dollars.

My husband and I are preparing to elect new insurance for the second time this year. His company is holding an additional enrollment period due to changes within the structure of their organization. Upon learning this, my immediate fear was that none of our new choices would be comparable to our current insurance and that my doctor's wouldn't be participants of the plan. The very same doctors who I credit with saving my life. As it turns out, my fears were valid, with the best out of the three new choices being an HMO. An HMO that forces us to go to in-network doctors. Our other two options including the one most comparable to the PPO we have now, both have a high deductibles and only a 90% coverage. Two plans that could result in thousands of out of pocket dollars should my cancer return. That's a stress that I can live without.

The one saving grace is that my gynecologic oncologist does accept the HMO plan. I will miss my other doctors greatly, but since keeping cancer at bay is my biggest concern at the moment, I'll have to make due. I am knowledgeable through experience, so I know that carrying around the responsibility of paying 10% out of pocket could be the very thing that takes you from living in your own home to living on a street. The difference between being able to put food on your table and standing in line at a soup kitchen.

I am writing for the people who don't have the knowledge or the voice. The everyday people who don't understand the convoluted and complex brochures that are handed out by companies to "help" us choose the "right" plan. I am writing to let you know just how many people of all walks of life and all backgrounds are here to support you and the decisions that you are making on behalf of us all. I'm writing to say, keep on doing what you're doing!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Checkin in and hoping you're all well...

Just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, my dad is still on the road to recovery and things are moving along nicely. I never had any doubt that he wouldn't be okay, something even I have a hard time believing considering all that I have been through. I sometimes sit in amazement and in awe of all the wondeful places and people you can draw strength from when you need it most.

Since my dad was doing so well and my aunt was also there as a support for my mom, I was able to spend a little time with my BFF or Best Friend Forever as the kids call it...just trying to stay young and current for as long as I can:) You may remember my BFF from a previous blog, she's pregnant with her first baby and she had quite a time telling me her good news.

I've been handling her pregnancy pretty well up until now, I haven't caught very many glimpses of that GREEN EYED MONSTER they call jealousy, which is a true testiment to my belief that we are all where we should be in life. I wasn't sure what seeing her and her growing belly would be like, but I knew it was something I couldn't avoid forever. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. Sure I had a couple of moments where I wished it were me complaining about not feeling like myself or the standard aches and pains that come along with being pregnant, but even more than that I find myself wishing that I could just go back to the time before Ovarian Cancer invaded my life, that is something I'll never get passed. I would have taken any magic potion or pill and paid any amount of money if I knew that it would prevent me from getting cancer.

But that's not the case and since we can't go back in time, I'll just keep on keepin on...trying my best to stay busy and productive, a challenge that I'm trying really hard to conquer. My next 3-month check up is coming up in a few weeks. It's amazing how fast time flys when you're having fun:)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cancer Knows no Boundaries...

Things have been pretty crazy over the last week. I've got a few interesting events to catch you up on, but I will save that for a later entry. I want to use this opportunity to share with you where I am now and how I'm navigating this new phase of my journey.

My dad had surgery for early staged prostate cancer on Friday. He's home now and resting which I am very thankful for, but watching him as he embarks on his new journey, is a lot like looking in a mirror. One thing my experience with Ovarian Cancer has taught me, is to be thankful and appreciative for where I am at this time...things could be worst and for some people they are just that. I think that cancer has hit us again because of how well we responded the first time. Yep, we were so good at it, someone decided that we could probably handle a little bit more:) My dad is a lot like me, he will not take cancer lying down. Having traveled down this road just a few short months ago was a blessing in disguise. It made me not so scared of the unknown. It's made me focus on the positive and not the negatives. It's helped my dad realize that he now has a mission. A mission to help educate our husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons about how important early detection is and how significant it is to saving your life.

My family has been through a lot over the years, but show me a family who hasn't. Resisting the temptation to question why, is half the battle...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Golden Age of heathcare...

Last week I had the distinct honor and pleasure of interviewing my father about his experience with segregation and racism. The daughter of a friend was doing a report for school(I'm assuming it was in celebration of black history month) and she wanted to get the perspective of an ordinary individual who lived during that time in history. Because my father grew up in the north his exposure to segregation and racism was minimal. But with summer visits to his grand-parents, my great-grandparents house in North Carolina his youthful eyes and innocence would be forever changed. Hearing stories of about how disadvantaged people of color were, really got me thinking about my journey and how different it would have been for me had I gotten sick just 40 years ago. I've received state of the art health's, surgeries, shortage of everything needed to help me fight this dreadful disease. What's ironic about the whole thing is that although segregation is no longer legal, we are still living in a country where not everyone has access to the same benefits. It's absolutely fascinating that although we've come so far, we've still got a long way to go. I'm glad I had that moment to stop, listen, and reflect with my dad. It's always good to remember where we've come from and no matter what your history is, it's something we can all benefit from.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Happy February Everyone!!

I can't believe how quickly time is flying, next month is my second three month check-up and the one year anniversary of my last chemo. When I was going through chemo it felt like time stood still...I couldn't see any further than what was right in front of me. Now it seems as if life won't slow down and although the weeks rush by, I try my best to savor every moment. Sometimes I sit in amazement, reflecting on this past year and all that has transpired. I see images of me in chemo, with no hair, and in surgeries...I lived those moments yet I still can't believe that girl is me and that this is my life. I've met so many wonderful people on this journey, it's hard to imagine what my life would be like without them(And I'm glad I don't have to) As life continues to move forward, I wanted to take a moment to say how thankful I am. I sometimes catch myself moving so fast trying to get my life back that I almost forget the road I last traveled. I don't every want to forget. My experience with Ovarian Cancer has made me the women I am today. It has taught me to take things one step at a time and to cherish what I have. I will continue to pray for all of those wonderful women who fighting this terrible disease. I will continue to do my part in creating awareness so that many more women will be blessed with early detection. I ask you to stay with me as I continue with the next phase of my journey, one that will be filled with life, love, and laughter!!