Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Must Be Specific in Your Case

Having any illness is so very emotional.  I am crazy to say this right?  Allow yourself to be emotional however in your long term care and for your best interest at some point you must be able to put the emotion aside...if you can not... find some one to help you...and move forward to advocate for yourself in a non emotional state.  It will save you in ways that you can not imagine.

When you are talking to your medical professionals be specific...very specific as to your plan of care...always find out exactly why your medical professional feels a certain way about your treatment plan inclusive of the emotional, statistical, and scientific point of view...and be able to relate it to your case as it stands by itself.

Then in your own mind you can figure out exactly how you might like to move forward and have a very real discussion with your doc.

I wanted to get this out today...I will go into this more in the following days.   Always get the "Why" in your plan...very specific why....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Post 2013

I love you my daughters because everyday when the odds seemed just insurmountable ...you woke up and did your day....with grace, strength, love and you never gave up...not then...not now...not ever.  I am so very proud of you.

I love you my friends new and old because even when I was at what seemed to be my lowest point in my health and life...you did not leave me...bald at times...sad...etc...and you stayed there until I came back to being myself and you all helped me tremendously until I re gained my way in the world.  Thank you all ever so much.  There are no words.

To all the folks that I so dearly miss in my life.  I have not forgotten you.  I never will. 

To those that are struggling with anything in your health...you are my valentine...keep going as you know not what each and everyday may bring...hope...hope...you never know.  I have learned this all of these over 11 years of this crappy disease :)

Where is the chocolate??????!!!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

After over 11 years of Cancer...Some General Thoughts

1.  I think learning how to live is also about learning about death. I am not being dark.  I love being alive.  That is why learning about life and death is so important.  Then life becomes more precious.  Do not run from either.

If you run from life you will not live it really...you will just exist.  If you run from death, then you are missing much of life.  you are too busy running and not living :).

2.  Cancer like life will grow or not ...not the way you think it will.  It will always surprise you...either way...good or bad.  All the times that I thought I was dying ...I was not...all the times that I thought I was fine...I was not....cancer is just creepy and it sucks ...really :).

3.  I did not learn much from cancer...seriously...I was always a nice person...kind...and assertive when I needed to be.  Cancer just made me more of what I already was.  Maybe people that have cancer one time and it never returns can make believe that they learned something.  People that have cancer for years and years have a little more to say or not...I think :).  I am not happy for one minute that I ever had this disease...not one second...ever

One thing for sure...I have met the most amazing, fabulous, people over all of these years and many of them are gone ....and many more will go...and someday I will go way too soon I think...I hope not.

Those brave, incredible people...they taught me how to exist and live with joy in this life that I have now....could not have done this without them.  And more will come and teach me so much.  Thanks.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How to Make a Payment Arrangement

Please see the prior post as well...they are connected.....and I will not repeat here what I said there.

1.  Take an honest look at your finances and your health.  I know this is hard to do in cancer or otherwise however you must.  Make a budget for everything even if it is in the negative.  You have to make a plan no matter what...some kind of written plan or you will never be really able to work your way out of this stuff.

2. If you will never pay let them no that as well however with honesty...

"I have stage....cancer....I will never be able to pay this bill due to...I may be declaring bankruptcy...I will decide this in the next 30 days...I will call you back when I decide...thanks good bye...

"Filing a judgement against me will do you no good as I have no funds at this time ...I have whatever disease...I will get back to you in 30 days to update on my financial arrangements if there are any that I can make...I am that ill."

3. If you are wanting to make an arrangement..."I am recovering from cancer.  I can pay you $10.00 per month right now until I have more of an idea of my recovery health and job wise.  I will send you $10 per month for the next 60 days and then we can talk again.  That is the best that I can do.  If you file a judgement against me while recovering from cancer it will not do anyone any good as I will have even less money.  I have full intention of paying this."      If you encounter a difficult rep ask ask for a supervisor and remind them that the call is being recorded and you would like a copy of it.

4.  Remember that a bill came form a hospital, etc...It can still be negotiated.....

more in next post

Saturday, February 9, 2013

How to Deal With Collection Calls

Sorry it took so long for me to get to this...I have been traveling.  Ideally it would best if you could make arrangements before bills go to collection...however we are all human so let's get started.

If your bill has gone to collection and you have been ignoring it chances are your credit has already been affected however you can recover....

1.  Always tell the truth...make clear, honest statements about how you are going to proceed or if you are going to proceed...including letting the company know if you are going to declare bankruptcy

2. Make sure you ask if the call is being recorded if they have not stated it....there is that little speech a real debt collector says in the beginning..."this is an attempt to collect a debt...etc"  You want the call to be recorded and you must make a record of the call in your log book....:) or where ever...Do not forget to get the name of the person you are speaking to and if they have an ID number as well....address of the company and name of supervisor in case you need to contact them yourself. 

3.  As always what is your goal in this conversation....
      a.   payment arragement?  
      b.  not paying at all ever etc?

Next post is about Payment Arrangements

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Forget and Remember Who You Are Always

This is about money. ..your life...everything.  Please stop mourning who you once were....and remember the strength and power you had when you had a healthier body...you are still in there.  This is perhaps the hardest part of cancer or any illness and it is related to money as well.  It is all connected.  You have to treat yourself as a whole person...all of you...

The first person to treat yourself with dignity, strength, and kindness is you....always.  Give yourself a little time each day to feel bad.....and then get on with it...

Be open to new experiences, people, and places always...it is not about the "bucket list"...it is about the "life list"...

More talk about money in previous posts and more to come....After doing this for over 11 years...I know this to be true...5 years of typing here...you can read....

Money Issues in Illness...Bankruptcy etc

There are two reasons that people avoid figuring out their financial situations....they are mental and physical issues.  If you are not able to deal with your money situation in a practical way...find someone practical and not too emotionally involved to help you.

It could be a friend, family member etc....a charitable organization..financial person...just make sure that they are honest and have your best interest at heart...Your gut level feelings are usually correct....if it does not feel right it probably is not...do not make major decisions alone....

Figure out your debits an credits....and see what your positive/negative is with your money...include everything...food...utility..etc.

I want to back track a little....every little step you take here will hopefully lead you to a better place...I have had myself many ups and downs financially in cancer ...this is not the way your life will be forever...everyday a new step...keep going :)

So now you have an exact number where you are....I know it might not be so good...

1.  Are you ever going back to your prior work?
2.  Are there there new avenues to earn money and how do I get there?
3.  Will I ever be able to pay this money back...at all ...ever? This is a very important question to think about that may lead you to discuss options with a bankruptcy attorney...debt forgiveness is an option.  However remember that the bills you get after the bankruptcy... you will be liable for.  Many creditors want to know your situation and if you write letters that you are in the midst of cancer treatment etc....they will give you more time..etc

However if you get harassed by phone people...report them....etc...

4.  Keep perfect notes on everything...dates and times of calls....always get the name of the person that you spoke to ...take notes on subject matter...request the phone call be recorded...this is important in case you need this info for later.

5.  Be nicely assertive...you just have cancer....you are still who you have always been...speak up and take care of yourself...This may sound ridiculous...however this is when the real you needs to step up....You may live a very long, long time !!!!!  :)  More later.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

How To Negotiate Medical Bills After Insurance Has Paid

This is dedicated to the folks at the Sarcoma Alliance where this blog has been running for years.  They give sarcoma patients money for second opinions at Sarcoma Centers so that we can live way longer :).

1.  Organize your bills...First...where they are from...by paper or excel sheet...whatever works for you
    a.  When the insurance info comes in regarding payment please match the insurance bill with the doctor/hospital bill and make sure insurance really paid...if not why not???  (that is another story)

2.  If we are talking hospital either go there in person and/or call on the phone...is there financial help available through charitable organizations....etc....

3.  All bills can be negotiated..All....First see if you can negotiate the bill down or away....Always ask for a supervisor or office manager...not just a phone rep....here is some verbage...

" Hi...this is Amy...I have my bills and I need to discuss them with you...this will take awhile...please...is this a good time?  If not please let me know when is....I have cancer and I am not working at present.  Please help me create a financial plan for this. 

(keep in mind that if your bills are so immense Bankruptcy is an option)  I can not advise on a blog however speaking to an attorney for an hour for free may help to decide) 

"Is there any part of this bill that can be forgiven?  I am not working at present and it may take me years to pay all of this.  If it can not be forgiven ...what discount and payment plan can we arrange?  I have been struggling with this disease for _____years and the medical bills will not be ending anytime soon.  I want to prepare properly for myself and my family.....I hope that you can help with this.

Hear the reaction and go from there....In this process I must tell you the need for honesty on the callers part....

Also If the insurance company is not paying on a bill ...find out why????  it may be just changing the insurance code will make them pay....this is a start......more later...

There are no Stages In Cancer

Before I go into the whole patient thing...I know the medical community stages cancers...and it is very important..it can define your treatment and help you make decisions.  So collect and analyze all of this information and then make up your mind to live in the best shape possible and as long as you can.

I have stage 4 cancer for over 10 years and I am still very much here...do not let the stage of cancer define who you are or how long that you will be here on this earth...you do not know this...

You could be here for so very long :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

What Kind of Patient Are You? Part One

What kind of patient are you?  Are you scientific?  Analytical? Are you emotional...gut level ...type of person?  Are you a mix?  Do you want to know the mitotic rate of your tumor growth?  Do you spend hours on Facebook or on Pubmed researching the latest news on your type of illness?  Are you really looking for a defined time of your life or death?  Do you worry a lot or are you in denial most of the time?  How have you chosen to live your life?

These are lots of questions....More in the next post.....Why is this important?  It is...