January 21, 2002|
As of 5:30pm, we haven’t heard from the insurance company, the case management company or the hospital. From last Friday, there was a 72 hour turnaround time. Obvious to all, that has been violated. Just more evidence for our case. Hopefully Monday we will receive news. Look for an update sometime Sunday. Till then…Go Steelers!
Latest News: No Baseball Bat-to-the-Head Fatalities to Report
My apologies for taking so long to write this latest update. Computer availability and my availability have been spotty at best. When the computer lab is open here at the Ronald McDonald House of NYC (hereafter to be referred to as the RMH) I am typically napping or out exploring Manhattan. When I am in prime writing mood (which sometimes comes after my sleeping pills have worn off at 3AM) the computer lab has long since shut down. Dejected, I instead write the update in my personal journal, only to discover the next morning that I a.) know gibberish, but just don’t realize it when I am awake, b.) wrote something so unintelligble and confusing to the English language that it would take a team of forensic scientists and anthropologists to unmask the mystery or c.) can’t read it because the ink smeared on the page, thanks to being left-handed. Anyway, all of my gold thoughts of last week are hidden in that journal only to be uncovered at a later date.
So the latest news: We are on appeal #2 with the insurance company, waiting for an answer Tuesday or Wednesday. Without getting into the laborious details, the basic argument by the insurance company as to why I haven’t been admitted into Sloan-Kettering is that this mini-transplant is too ‘experimental’ according to their language. The kicker: other insurance companies have approved such procedures on the first go around with riskier patients at Sloan-Kettering.
Definitions and Explanations
Full Bone Marrow Transplant– proven, older procedure where patient gets blasted with enough chemotherapy that the patient’s immune system and, hopefully, cancer cells are obliterated. Afterwards a matching donor’s bone marrow (or stem cells) is inserted into the patient which regrow the immune system and help to fight any remaining cancer cells.
Mini-Bone Marrow Transplant– newer procedure where patient gets blasted with very little chemotherapy and a lot of immuno-suppressents. Afterwards a matching donorís bone marrow (or stem cells) is inserted into the patient which regrow the immune system and help to fight any remaining cancer cells. The goal of the procedure is that the donor’s marrow will do the entire work, recognizing the cancer cells as being foreign entities.
Importance of MBMT to Art– I have done way too much chemotherapy in the past two years to allow me to do a full BMT. One telling statistic that was revealed to me- my blood gets oxygen at a 50% less clip than a year and a half a go. Simply, any more large doses of chemotherapy and my heart stops. Simply, if we don’t try this MBMT, the cancer takes over my body and my heart stops. Don’t have too many options, do we?
Life vs. the Bottom-Line
I can somewhat understand the insurance company’s dilemma. The company is on hard times. It just laid off 2,000 workers a few weeks ago. Managers are getting pressed into cost-cutting measures. The letter of the law is being dictated. I would not want to be the doctor who has to make the decision to fund this procedure.
I say somewhat though because this goes beyond the bottom line and your average ordinary medical procedure. This isn’t approving hydro-therapy for someone’s bad back (although I can empathize completely). This isn’t cosmetic dental work. This isn’t wart-removal. This is someone’s life at stake. Hello! I don’t get this procedure, I perish. I get a different procedure, I perish. It’s not about the Benjamins, it’s about a life.
Being alone in the city the past few weeks has given me the time to grip that above tension and also the very subject of death. It is so hard to fathom that someone has the right to decide if you die or not, let alone over a dollar amount. Is my life worth a price? Is all that I have done and will do, is there some figure attached to it all? It plainly sucks knowing that someone in a boardroom, in an office, in a cubicle perhaps, is right now deciding whether or not to fund the procedure that could ultimately save my life, hinging on that person’s definition of the word ‘experimental’. Unreal.
It’s not easy coming to grips with what could be your death. This is not to be grim or dark. I don’t want this to be an Emily Dickinson-like rant of impending doom. Rather, in cases like this you have to be realistic. I am a twice-relapsed cancer patient. The chances of survival are heavily against me. Does that mean I give up? Of course not. Does that mean I am not optimistic about recovery? Of course not? Does that mean nothing will work? Of course not.
Importantly though, I (and you) have to be a realistic optimist. I still fight. I still believe I will be healed. I still live each day. I am still cheerful (and goofy). I don’t stop my daily activities or friendships. I am still looking for a good intern/assistant (know of anyone?) to help me manage e-mail, phone calls and appointments 🙂 But I don’t live in a delusional state, blindly believing that there is no doubt that I will be healed. I understand the nature of the ballgame.
Faith, optimism, hope have to be approached that way. Why? Well, for me, it starts with a belief in a Creator who does and acts as He wants. Just because I am Art Canning, was class president, went to an Ivy League school and worked on Wall Street doesn’t mean jack to Him. He could accomplish more in a millisecond than I could ever accomplish in full life. Ultimately, His will prevails. If I (or we) go in blindly, saying “We know Art’ll be healed. We just know it. We prayed for it, etc.” then that is no longer faith in Godís will. That is faith in our own will. That is faith in knowing that we know better how to run the earth than God.
Instead, I take my example from three guys, who as they were just about to be thrown into a giant fiery furnace said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to rescue as from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the images of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3) Translation (for them and for me): We know God can save us from any situation and certainly will save us now, despite the odds. But we could be wrong. We could be wrong. Itís not about us, it’s about Him. His ways are above ours.
So I go into this next chapter, with just that- realistic optimism. Eventually I’ll get into the hospital and weíll do this transplant. (There are ways around the insurance company that so many of you have come up with. Thank you!) Who knows what will happen? Regardless, I’ll still shake my booty in there like last time, full of passion and enthusiasm, realistically optimistic that God will use all of this for bigger and better things, whether I am here or not.
If you can, please pray for the insurance company, my company (Goldman Sachs) and the hospital. I’ll be OK. Just pray for the people there who are working on this case. I sometimes feel they need it more than I do.
P.S. Go Steelers!!!!!!!!