Breast Cancer, the weak link, money for patients!
$5,960 raised
60% of $10k goal
39 contributors
4 Years running
It began with the question, “Oh my, am I going to die?” When you do not have health insurance personal care gets put on the back burner; unless of course there’s an accident or acute condition that forces you to see a doctor. For many years we did ...

It began with the question, “Oh my, am I going to die?”

When you do not have health insurance personal care gets put on the back burner; unless of course there’s an accident or acute condition that forces you to see a doctor.

For many years we did not have health insurance and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fell short of providing, of all things, affordable insurance. It seems we make too much money to qualify for even minimum coverage and not enough to afford buying insurance on our own.

Fortunately, after a decade of working for her company the new owners provided health insurance for my wife Patty. When that happened she scheduled a doctor appointment since it had been many years overdue. All went well and the doctor asked her to have a mammogram given that she was 53 years old at the time and had never had one. It was time. It was well past time actually. I am still not covered, but thankfully the love of my life is and we were able to move forward with her care – to a degree.

Not having insurance does that to people; put off health care. Any professional health consideration was simply not part of our lives until Patty became covered just a few short months ago. The lack of money and/or insurance causes people to forego taking care of themselves like they know they should. Many illnesses go untreated and we simply suffer through them best we can, like so many, too many, people do.

On February 28th 2014 her first ever mammogram revealed an area of concern and on March 3rd a biopsy was taken. There was no history of breast cancer in her family yet pathology reported a week later that Patty has “cancer;” Invasive Mammary Carcinoma to be exact. I was with her at the doctors’ office when we got the news.

Prior to finding out about test results we were confident all would be well given her family history. We were still quite anxious. But when the doctor nervously broke the news we were stunned like a deer in the headlights. With ashen faces and wildly beating hearts the anguish and initial shock triggered every emotion imaginable and instantly overwhelmed us with a kind of dread and fear that I sincerely hope you never have to experience. Those three words, “You have cancer,” shook us to our very core and suddenly here we are starring the “death” question right in the eyes, “Oh my, am I going to die?”

After a few minutes assimilating what we had just been told, Patty, my rock and the love of my life, cracked for a split second, and then she became as stoic as a Viking bravely surveying the battlefield in preparation for a battle for her very life.

Patty was referred to an Oncologist, who referred her to a breast cancer surgeon, who then sent us to a Radiation Oncologist. And between all of the doctors were numerous other tests, another mammogram, a sonogram, a CT scan, and then blood and other various tests. We were shuffled here and there to various medical facilities for this and that exam, test, and/or consultation.

We experienced little real compassion among all of the medical staff we’ve seen. They all, save one or two people, were rather matter of factly about what we are facing and have to do to save her life. While there is a team of doctors on Patty’s side none of them appear to be particularly “team oriented.” It may not be the case, it just seems that way. It also feels like each phase of the process so far is rather disjointed from the whole. A couple of physicians even told us that getting some of Patty’s medical information from a certain facility was “like pulling teeth.”

Imagine that, we’re in survival mode and one part of the team is uncooperative! I swallowed my anger and did what was needed to get the information that “they” needed and moved on. I may revisit this issue later? People fighting for life from cancer should not have to face an uncooperative health care provider. It adds a level of stress and extra expense we should not have to endure or emcumber. A lot of time and driving long distances costs money we need for other things.

On May 12th 2014 Patty had “the surgery” to remove the cancer (tumor) along with some lymph nodes. We are currently waiting on pathology to determine what stage of cancer we’re facing. Much of the process feels like hurry up and wait, with lots of anxiety, lots of it!

In the meantime our medical bills are beginning to mount, and they are coming from all directions. And we've only just begun the process. Add insult to injury we even have to pay to park at one of the doctor's offices. Seems like everywhere we turn people are wanting money. I know, that's just the way it is. But when you do not have much, every dollar we spend for this means we have to short ourselves in some other area of our life. And we really do not have that much.

Even with health care insurance we are looking at thousands of dollars for her treatment and care. At this point we’re certain that Patty will require 6 to 8 weeks of radiation treatment. We will not know if she will require chemo for about a month from now; about the time she starts radiation. She will have to go for radiation treatments everyday, except weekends, for up to eight weeks!

Since we live some 25 miles, one way, from the radiology center we’ll also be spending a lot on fuel, not to mention time off from work and other compromises and sacrifices we’ll have to make at who knows what cost? This will impact us on every level and every aspect of our lives. And right now, without help, there is no way we will ever be able to afford it.

Here we are, in a battle for life, and right there side-by-side with us in this battle is worry about money, occupying the same space as mortality - there it is, money - mortality, in the same breath. Can you imagine fighting for your very life and you get a call from some entity demanding money?

It’s demoralizing, demeaning, and emotionally charged to a point of spiking our anxiety to a level that people in our country, with a life threatening condition, should never, ever, have to bear.

No matter, we will do whatever it takes, for how ever long it takes, to get through this so that everyone wins, most especially Patty, and including those who need to get paid.

Almost everyone in our country knows about breast cancer and all of the foundations and fundraising efforts for research, development of a cure, and big pharma for this type of cancer, but there’s precious little money for the actual patient; the one part of this huge medical chain that has the weakest link is the patient, my wife Patty.

Patty and I recently went to Las Vegas on a business trip for a trade show that she attends for her company each year. We saved money for months so that I could fly with her on this trip so we could have an evening or two of some fun before we embark on Patty’s treatment, which began Monday, May 12th with surgery. The picture I posted is the two of us after a long day for Patty at the convention. We did enjoy ourselves on our first trip together away from home in over 20 years. I hope to have many more such times with my precious wife of 33 years.

So it’s for this reason that I am asking you, from the bottom of my heart, please help me save my precious wife Patty, the love of my life, from Breast Cancer.

We are of modest means with few resources of our own - basically paycheck to paycheck. Please join our battle for her life with a donation that will help cure her and help us pay associated expenses.

I have no idea how much it will cost to save my precious Patty. The figure I posted as a goal was picked as a starting place. It may be less or it may be more, I just don't know at this time. Regardless of the posted figure we simply need your help. Any amount will be most appreciated.

Thank You,

R. Scott Ihrig

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