Friday, June 24, 2011

Prayers needed

Mom has been feeling well this week, other than the burning sensation in her feet. They are peeling too (that really hasn't stopped) however no little blisters are popping up so that's good. She expects it to be bothersome for a few more days and is keeping her feet iced. And she has her "Udderly Smooth" cream too. That combination seems to work best.

The donut hole saga continues. More about that later. Nothing serious, just ridiculous.

A really tragic thing happened this week to mom's friend Lois Smith. She fell in her bathroom sometime Tuesday, and no one found her until yesterday, so she was on the floor for about a day and half. She has a serious head injury and has developed an aneurism...not sure if the aneurism caused the fall, or if she slipped and fell and then developed the aneurism. She was flown to St. Frances in Peoria immediately as it was felt that they could better handle that type of trauma as she needs surgery. Her family is with her (except for husband Ralph - is best he stay at Hammond Henry, he as been in extended care there for awhile) and she is conscious but quite confused about what happened. Mom said today that her kidney's are functioning again so that's a good sign. They may do surgery on the aneurism next week depending on her other functions.

Lois has been there for mom non-stop these last couple of years since we found out about the cancer, and even before that has been a staple family friend forever - since we moved from Peoria to Geneseo. I really can't think of what it would be like to not have Lois around - but she's hanging in there and needs a ton of prayers. Mom and I are thinking about heading to Peoria sometime next week but will wait and see. Lois' son Robert is keeping mom updated.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chemo and Iron

Mom had her chemo on Thursday (Doxil) and that went well. On Saturday we went to the Geneseo Arts and Crafts in the Park to check out her Jazzercise club and then see what we could buy that we really didn't need. I ended up with a bag of rocks andmom bought some kettle corn popcorn for the boys. It was a great morning and we saw a lot of people out and about. That's the best part of a hometown - going back and seeing familiar faces. Everyone there was happy to see mom (photo of mom and Connie Paris) and gave tons of hugs and "you are on the prayer list" comments. It makes me feel at ease that she is in good hands as I can't be out there all the time. We ran into neighbor Marion and had lunch at the Congregational Church under a tent.

The morning wasn't complete without razzing the two gentleman on the bench, Lynn and Ed. They made themselves pretty comfortable while their wives Jazzercised in the
heat up under the Bandshell. They may still be sitting there - we left them in that spot as they were content to sit while everyone went off to look at the arts and crafts booths.

Today mom had her first Iron infusion. I forget what they call it (some technical term) but she took it well and she even drove herself to and from Trinity. The nurses gave her some meds before (benedryl, prevacid) to curb reactions but she said she felt fine. It took a little over three hours all said and done. It was a little longer than I expected but with the first one they didn't want to rush. She has another one the week after next.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The big donut hole

Dr. Porubcin saw mom today and reviewed her blood work. Overall, things were ok, and her CA125 was down in the 600's. That's is an improvement so we'll take that and be happy about it. Her feet have been ok in the last week (less peeling, stinging) and haven't been giving her as many problems. That said, Dr. Porubcin felt that she could continue with about 3 or 4 more Doxil treatments spaced at 5 weeks apart. Trinity was able to schedule her in tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. - so we're going to chemo tomorrow. I'm glad as that will mean less of a gap between treatments...losing any ground at this point would be a bad thing. 

Doctor was concerned about her iron level, so she has go to in for some iron infusions through IV for the next few weeks. She could take the iron orally, but given her stomach issues with the Doxil, IV would be better. It's kind of a hassle, as the treatment takes 2 hours through the IV so that means that she has to go to Trinity every other week. But if the IV is easier with less side effects (you don't want to know... she and Dr. P. were talking about "stool effects" of oral iron tablets when I started to gag) and also more comfortable on her stomach, I think IV is better. She can drive herself to treatments and then maybe we can go out to lunch or something afterward. Not a bad deal IMO.

RE: The Big Donut Hole. I have only learned of this concept in the last week. It's a popular phrase in the health insurance world, and it relates to supplemental insurance that one has to get when other supplemental insurance for prescriptions runs out. Normally, people don't run out of prescription coverage, however not everyone spends $2,300+ a month on prescriptions like mom. The Lovenox is the most expensive drug she needs (to keep her blood clottage in check) and she pays a minimal co pay, but the insurance company is paying the rest of the thousands of dollars. Of course the insurance company doesn't like that [paying], so they told mom that she is getting close to running out of the coverage. She has been on the Lovenox for the last two years (going on three) so literally if we take $2,300 x 24 mos = $55,000 has been spent on Lovenox by the insurance company. 

The current insurance company told mom that when she has reached the $5,000 balance point, they will let her know so she can find a different company with supplemental insurance for prescriptions. There is a plan available through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and mom has talked with them a couple of times. She can apply over the phone and get it taken care of pretty quickly. There is a premium, but that's how insurance works. 

BUT that is not the crazy part... Blue Cross/Blue Shield says that her prescriptions are covered with a co-pay ($9) up to $2,800. Then, this thing they call a "donut hole" takes effect, which means that she will have to pay OUT OF POCKET for prescriptions until she gets to the $4,800 mark. Then, after the $4,800 mark she will return to pay either a co-pay or minimal percentage of the prescription. I am going to find out who came up with this donut hole concept and write them a letter. I'm sure it makes sense to them but it really isn't fair to people who really need prescriptions like the Lovenox.

Sherri at Dr. Porubcin's office has information on a couple of foundations that help with prescriptions when they hit the donut hole phase. The good thing is that she has time (at least a couple of months) to get things in order. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Doctor appointment tomorrow

Tomorrow mom has an appointment with Dr. Porubcin at 11:00 a.m. There is no chemo scheduled afterward... however he is going to discuss where she needs to go from now, as the Doxil hasn't been working out as anticipated. Mom got her bloodwork done last Friday so he should have a good set up numbers to work with, and hopefully will schedule her for the other chemo regimen (back to Taxol/Carbo) in the next month. Since her CA125 number hasn't been going down enough, my concern is to get her started on the other ASAP since we know that program worked extremely well back in 2009. 

On another note, an interesting development here in the Quad Cities... a popular news anchor, Paula Sands, of our NBC affiliate, KWQC, announced that she was diagnosed with Stage II ovarian cancer. (Article here She made her announcement about a month ago and apparently her trigger symptom was a bladder infection. The really hard part is that Paula is only in her 50's which is incredibly young. Mom was in her 70 when her symptoms surfaced... and even that to me is young considering the good health she was in at the time. Unfortunately mom was at Stage III, so the wheels start turning with questions about how soon she really did have the cancer - late 60's? There are always so many questions with ovarian cancer since it is so quiet and unassuming until it really builds and disrupts the body. 

The good thing is that Ovarian Cancer has a great awareness in the community now because of Paula Sands. She is sharing a lot of her experience with the viewers of her show, including finding wigs and going through chemo therapy. My impression is that she is just as much a fighter as mom is, so her story will be one of hope too.