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Elise Manion

Random Thoughts from a Hopeless Romantic

Month

December 2016

Run Over By The Cancer Truck

My dad was diagnosed with cancer a week before Thanksgiving. To say that we were hit by a truck would be putting it mildly. My father is only sixty-eight, far too young to receive such devastating news. I’ll be blogging more about this as his treatment progresses because there have been some snags—for lack of a better description—that involve Medicare, scheduling, and the general attitude among the medical field that I want to discuss in finer detail.

Today my question is this: Do you think that your doctor should have the final say in your treatment or should your insurance <insert company name here>?

My dad has metastatic melanoma in his lungs and liver. Melanoma is not treated with radiation or chemotherapy anymore. Today it’s treated with either immunotherapy, which helps the body fight it on its own, or if the melanoma has a mutated gene (BRAF) it can be treated with a new medicine that targets the specific mutated cancer. If my father is found to have this mutation, his oncologist believes that the treatment for it works faster than immunotherapy. The plan was for the oncologist to order more pathology on the biopsies taken from his liver to determine whether or not the mutation was there. Once the report was back from the pathologist, the oncologist would meet with my dad and a protocol for treatment was to begin. His appointment was planned for yesterday.

Keep in mind that through this whole process, a weekend or holiday would interfere with scheduling. So even though the oncologist would say we needed a test or scan done ASAP, we were still waiting a week in between these “ASAP” tests and appointments. Frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it.

After some confusion and delays, my parents finally met with the oncologist yesterday for the results. Here’s where the question above comes into play. The pathology report was sent directly to MEDICARE, not to my father’s oncologist, so the doctor has no idea whether or not my dad’s melanoma carries any kind of mutation. It will take Medicare (read GOVERNMENT) two weeks to process this information and get back to the doctor on whether or not THEY will APPROVE his treatment for the mutated melanoma, if he indeed has it. Let me say it again; the TREATING PHYSICIAN does not have access to the pathology report until after Medicare has read and processed it.

Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? Granted, there’s only a fifty-fifty shot that my dad has this mutation. Thank goodness that his oncologist will begin immunotherapy treatments—once every three weeks—beginning next week (eh hum, this will be discussed in another blog), as a proactive measure for now. If the report finally comes back saying he has the mutation, he will finish out the immunotherapy and then begin the new treatment.

Again, am I crazy to think that that report should’ve been handed to the DOCTOR first and then submitted for insurance and not the other way around?

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Hiatus

Have you heard the phrase, “Life JUST got in the way?” Well, that’s putting the past few months lightly. Writing has been as elusive to me as a giant squid is to a camera. Here’s the gist:

My Man turned the big Five-Oh back in May and for his birthday we decided to take a family vacation to Grand Cayman Island the first week in October. But, in late summer my son announced that he was moving out…two states away…in October, a week after we returned from the Caribbean and a week prior to attending our annual Aftershock Rock Festival in Sacramento. Sure, we could’ve sold our tickets but Avenged Sevenfold was headlining! Wasn’t giving that up for all the tea in China.

If you follow me on Snapchat (JacksWriterMom – EliseManionSnappin📱) or Instagram (@elisemanion) you got to see how October played out for us. Though we were busy and had a lot of fun, writing was nearly impossible.

We were both heartbroken and hopeful for our only child’s move. He was taking a big leap into adulthood. He quit his two jobs and made a plan. He’s now enjoying his new career in the culinary arts (okay, that sounds a bit pretentious. He’s cooking for a popular dining chain. He’s recommended that we stick to either eggs or burgers. Ha!)  while establishing residency so that he can attend school in Colorado. He’s doing well and we couldn’t be prouder. He surprises me at every turn. We were hoping to get him home for Thanksgiving but we were forced to settle for three days of FaceTime instead. Unfortunately, it looks like Christmas is going to go the same way.

A week before Thanksgiving my dad got sick. My parents live in a small town three hours away. They have been staying with us while he seeks treatment, escaping to their home on the weekends. While the news was devastating, my family remains hopeful that treatment will begin soon so that my father can feel better.

And finally, the resident rock star that we’d adopted two summers ago as a stray 17-year-0ld homeless kid finally moved out of my office and into his own two-bedroom apartment. He’s now nineteen, working a day job, singing on the weekends and his band even scored a rock festival in LA last summer. While we hugged and said our goodbyes I realized that a whole new chapter was beginning in my life; middle age. This is the time when everything changes at once.

Thus, the unexpected hiatus. Even though I tried to write while all of the above was happening, the words either wouldn’t come or there just wasn’t the time or space to do it. Poor Josh and Missy remain temporarily suspended in their burgeoning romance (Josh’s Challenge) and the paranormal story I’d been outlining still remains drifting about in my head. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, though. It’s called 2017! Just being here with you right now is a step in the right direction.

~Elise

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