For the last several years, I've read Brian Buck's weblog and marvelled at the energy and optimism he mustered during a fight with osteosarcoma that began nearly five years ago.
Buck died April 7 at age 33.
His whole site's worth a read, but here are a few of my favorite entries:
- Aug. 5, 2004: "I'm a sucker for that Dylan-esque sound with the sky high organs and the lyrics about driving and dreaming about some girl."
- Jan. 9, 2004: "I took this photo about an hour after the fog had lifted from the valley."
- Jan. 8, 2004: "This was one of those beautiful April snowstorms."
- Feb. 23, 2003: "I am still learning the language of mourning."
- Sept. 18, 2002: "It is scary, some might say stupid, to let it all hang out and tell the world about your vulnerabilities."
- June 10, 2002: "What I was really fighting for was a return to normalcy."
Dave: "$400 a month -- I asked what it would cost if I didn't have insurance. $400 per month. And that's just one drug."
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Chemotherapy can cost up to, and sometimes even over, $25,000 a week.
If you don't have good private health insurance, you are not going to be seen by anyone but the complete bottom of the barrel MDs. And this won't be at a nice facility, it will be at the shitty hospital in town, you know, the one on the 5 o'clock news where people die all the time of simple, treatable diseases like bronchitis.
My friend's husband died of lymphoma because the crappy HMO he was being "treated" in completly screwed up. They claimed to not know what was wrong with him. When he finally paid out of his own pocket to see a doctor at Sloan Kettering, he was Stage IV, it was too late, and he died.
Then factor in you are not working. If you do not have disability pay, forget about getting paid for a long, long time.
If you are the main earner in the house, count on being financially ruined without a disability policy. Count on cutting corners on your treatment since you don't have any more money and are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
This is scary as hell! Trust me, I was a figure of health before I was diagnosed with bone cancer: never got sick, had a decent weight, exercised semi-regularly, ate healthy, and I was only 29 years old in the prime of my life. And like Dave, before any of this happened to me, I was completely clueless.
Fact is, cancer and most diseases do not discriminate. Rich, poor, black, white, fat, skinny, healthy, sickly -- it does not matter and it could happen to anybody, anytime.
It was never my intention to get cancer. But here I am. And so far I have been extremely lucky to have excellent health and disability coverage. I am 100 percent sure that I would be dead already if I had worse insurance.
If you don't believe me, and want to research this further, begin reading with this Google search. It will open your eyes.