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A cancer journey - JTing
Apr 25, 2020 Latest post:
Sep 5, 2020
Update (4/22/20): After an external review and 2 internal reviews, the insurance has denied coverage. At this point, all the appeals have been exhausted. I will have to pay for the treatment which is between $160-200K. This is obviously a huge financial burden and it's been a huge source of stress. I pray for God's providence, but if I must be honest, the situation seems so hopeless. Even so, I try to remind myself of God's promise and assurance.
Below is a bit of background from an email I wrote to my family and friends initially.
Hi friends, How's it going? Just wanted to take some time to update you on what's been going on. At the beginning of April, I was diagnosed with cancer in the nasopharynx. It's the same type of cancer that my uncle, aunt and my father had. (My father ultimately passed away because of it). In the back of my mind, I always thought it would be possible that I would get it too, I just didn't expect it to be so soon at the age of 32.
I think some of you guys know this, for a while I was wrestling with my faith. I found it hard to put God first in my life, and I tried to find security in all the wrong places. One silver lining in this experience is that it really caused me to reflect on how fleeting and undependable the things of this life are. No matter how high up you are in your job, or how well you've planned your finances, they can't save you. Only Christ is truly dependable. I guess this is a good lesson to learn while I'm in my 30s than much later on in my life - that lesson and to treasure everyday that I have, because we honestly don't know what tomorrow will bring.
My family has been encouraging. They encourage me to put my faith in Christ whenever I feel lost or upset with the circumstances. I'm very thankful for them, and if you can, please pray for them as well. I've now been on both sides (the patient and the caretaker), and I know that I'm not the only one suffering. They need prayers and encouragements too as it's also hard being the caretaker, while juggling all that they have on their plates already.
My church and other fellow brothers and sisters have been very supportive. I've shared with my pastors about what's going on, and they've encouraged me and introduced me to oncologists in the church that I can talk to. My small group has been praying for me and checking in on me, and I'm really thankful I have brothers and sisters around the world that are praying for me.
It's been a roller coaster ride. Let's start with the good news first. The tumor is small (1cm) and not invading other tissues, it is highly curable as we found it early (When my ENT just saw something suspicious...he said I'm low risk, but due to my family history, let's do a biopsy to completely rule it out...I'm thankful we did), and the 5 year survival rate is 90%. Just thankful for all these as it could have been much worse. Also, I think I've been to MD anderson for over 10 appointments just last week. (Another thing I'm thankful for is that God placed me in the same city as a top ranked cancer center in the US. I think it's #1, actually) Nevertheless, sometimes I naturally worry if I would make it, or how my body would handle the treatment. Your prayers for healing is much appreciated.
As for the things that might be challenges, the staging (the doctor said it's not the best indicator in my case...I'll explain) went from stage 1, to possibly stage 3, then we ruled out stage 3, and now we are testing to see if it's stage 1 or 2. Obviously hearing that, I went from relief (stage 1), to feeling like the rug was pulled under me (stage 3), to being anxious (stage 1 or 2). The doctor explained I should not focus on the staging. Stage 2 meant it spread to my lymph nodes. However, even if it did, I only have 1 lymph node that might have it. He said it doesn't change my cure rate or the treatment plan. Update (4/22/20): Thankfully, it's stage one - I'm thankful that we caught it early)
The second challenge is that I worry if insurance will allow for the treatment that the doctor recommended. The doctor recommended proton therapy (radiation therapy that uses proton instead of photon), the benefit is that it damages the surrounding tissues less. It is more costly, and from what I read in my medical insurance policy, it will only be allowed if the doctor can prove medical necessity. I do pray no appeals are needed, but I would not be surprised if that happens. Please pray for this as it weighs on me.
Sorry for the long winded story. The TL;DR is that I ask for your prayers for healing, for my family, and for insurance to go smoothly. Aside from prayers, if you have any practical tips, I would much apprecaite it too (Medical Liability lawyers that you might know, medical journals that support proton therapy, things to do/not do during treatment, or anything else you think might be helpful)
I'll end with a verse that comforted me when my Dad was sick. Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."