Friday, January 29, 2010

Enough is Enough

I am angry. I am frustrated. I am confused. As I've said before, Jeff always thought this blog was meant to help me express my emotions through his fight with cancer. Then it was meant to help me deal with my fears after his death. It then morphed into a pleas to the medical community to improve the medical services for cancer patients.

Now it is a place I write of my disdain and mistrust of how we are caring for those with cancer. Why aren't there more answers? Why does someone have to get really sick before anyone takes notice? Why do we have to research pages and pages of medical jargon and websites trying to find answers that the doctors don't have time to give? I'm overwhelmed by the number of those in my life--some that are new names to me and some that are dear names to me--who are trying to just find a way to have another week, month, year with their families. Some are children--so small and frail and frightened. Some are mothers--strong and loving and determined. Some are fathers--tough and caring and just want to shelter their family from their own fear. All are brave, all are fighters, all just want answers.

We want to know we've done our best to fight the cancer. The questions that float through our tired brains at night--"Did we do everything we could? Did we go everywhere we could go? Did we have the best doctors? Did we take the best course of treatment? Are there clinical trials we should have tried? When do we stop and just say let me rest and love my family?"

Where are the answers? "I don't know," is not good enough. It is not OK to hear these words when a person is dealing with cancer.

Why are there millions of dollars being poured into SuperBowl Ads, super salaries for superstars, $120 million baseball contracts, Avatar movies, HGTV Million Dollar Rooms, Wall Street bonuses, bank bailouts....Doesn't anyone who has the power to help get it? We need to find a cure! We need to make it easier to file claims! By all means, a cancer patient should not worry about how they are going to pay for their care. They should not worry if they are going to lose their house. They should not worry if they could possibly leave a mountain of debt for their loved ones. Our priorities are way out of line.

It would help to see some progress locally. I've been ranting like a crazy person about how we need to improve care from the oncology offices to the emergency rooms for cancer patients for the past two years--and nothing. I've seen money poured into more parking garages, some ideas on how to track medical care for the homeless, articles that describe more nursing classes. But we are still lacking an Urgent Care Cancer Facility--even the addition of a 24/7 on-call oncology nurse practitioner or oncologist for cancer patients in the ER. We are lacking a dedicated room in our ER's for cancer patients who need isolation and special care. We are lacking the access to and availability of research for clinical trials for ALL cancers--colon, melanoma, peritoneal, pancreatic. We are lacking the simple ability for a patient's scans to make it from one facility to another within a reasonable amount of time. We are lacking the simple ability to keep track of our patient's records.

I want better for the future. I want more from our medical facilities. I want faces of cancer patients--those still fighting and those who have finished their fight--posted to the walls of the administrative and executive offices of the hospitals. I want these executives to be the ones to tell the patients that they can't get well because the hospital chose to redecorate or build a parking garage instead of using those dollars to improve the oncology unit, or to train the ER staff on how to care for cancer patients in their care, or to pay for on call oncology staff to help with 24/7 urgent cancer care. I want them to sit down and comb through the websites and the clinical trial paper descriptions and sort it all out and make sense of it all. I want them to file the claims and figure out how to pay the bills. Then I want them to try to sleep at night.

I am angry. I am frustrated. I am disgusted.

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