The Stacey Report

Note to World: Bad Move!

Posted in Stacey Updates by dbancroft on February 26, 2010

Dear World,

I wouldn’t have thought that you’d need me to tell you this. I mean, it’s sort of along the “don’t play golf in a thunderstorm” lines, in the “Duh!” category.

Don’t piss my sister off.

It’s pretty simple, especially since this whole cancer thing happened: My sister gets to have whatever she wants. Period. I don’t care who you are or what you have to go through, just get it done.

And this isn’t even something she wants! Believe me, I’m sure that she’d rather make all of YOU take the stuff at this point, but she needs it and you aren’t giving it to her and now I’m just going to run and duck. And if you’re still breathing later you can tell me what it was like, but for right now I really don’t have a single bit of pity for you because you did not abide by the one simple rule stated above, ibid and to wit:

My sister gets to have whatever she wants.

(This is your own damn fault):

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Dear Empire BlueCross BlueShield, PrecisionRx Specialty “Solutions”, and FedEx,

Would it be easier for you all if I just died? Is that what you’re hoping for? Do you really hate sick people that much? These are really the only reasons I can come up with for the way in which you all have behaved in the past week and I would just like to say this: FUCK YOU.

All I need is a prescription filled. A legitimate prescription, written by a real doctor, for a very real and very serious reason. Why is this so hard? Supposedly I will be receiving it on Monday, but that is TEN DAYS AFTER THE PRESCRIPTION WAS WRITTEN. This is appalling service and all three of you should be ashamed of the parts you have played in this. Ashamed.

Let’s break down the many ways in which you have failed me. First, a few establishing facts: my doctor sent a new prescription to my local CVS last Wednesday at around 6 pm, before I had even arrived back home from the appointment CVS had called to let me know that my insurance company (Empire BCBS) required that the prescription be filled through PrecisionRx Specialty “Solutions” (quotes mine because THERE HAVE BEEN NO FUCKING SOLUTIONS YET), CVS let me know that they had spoken to PrecisionRx and had faxed them the prescription. Now for the process breakdowns:

  1. Empire BCBS required authorization from the doctor before they would approve the script. But the doctor? wrote the prescription? which is kind of like authorization? Or it would be, to right-thinking people, of which there are precious few in this story. When I called Empire they were very nice and called the doctor’s office for me to get them the correct forms. I suppose that if you’re going to have an absurd process you might as well participate in it a bit.
  2. Empire normally takes 7 to 10 days to approve these scripts. 7 TO 10 DAYS?! This is a prescription for a drug to treat metastatic cancer. Do you know what that even means? I don’t have that kind of time to screw around here! To their credit they put a rush on it which cut the processing time down to 24 hours, but still! I can do it in two seconds: a well-respected, credited doctor wrote a prescription for an established patient…APPROVED! See? Easy. No one is trying to get away with anything here. This drug can’t be used for illicit purposes. No one is getting high or making money off of it. There’s only some poor sap over here hoping that this drug will buy them a few more months of life, that’s all. Fuck me for even trying, I guess.
  3. While this was going on, I was calling PrecisionRx every day and every day I would ask about the process and was there a way to hurry it along and every day I was told that they just needed the approval from Empire, and then that they needed coverage information from Empire, and that once they had these approvals they would schedule the delivery with me. WTF? Here I am, on the phone, ready to schedule the delivery. Why do you even need to schedule a delivery, anyway? JUST FUCKING SEND IT ALREADY! I called you every day and every day you had the opportunity to take the information you needed to process the payment (which is really what you were worried about, let’s be honest here). And every day I was asking you if I could give you that information now, today, let’s not wait. But you had to wait, because your process sucks.
  4. Finally, yesterday, PrecisionRx had everything they needed and were ready to “schedule the shipment” (which is the stupidest term I’ve ever heard for what was essentially a bit of bureaucratic nonsense). So I gave them the credit card info, and confirmed the address (for, like, the millionth time), and spoke to their nurse (complete waste of time, PrecisionRx – I have a nurse, and a doctor. That’s where I got the script from, remember? Your nurse was very nice, but she has nothing for me and it was a waste of time for both of us.) So then they tell me that delivery would be on Monday. You’ve already screwed around for a week and now you’re going to just send it the slow way? No. I don’t think so. So I asked, very nicely, if they could ship it overnight and she checked with her manager and they approved it and I thought we were all set, if by “all set” I mean almost at the end of this very long and very frustrating process, which I guess I do because that’s really all I was going to salvage of the situation at that point. Fine.
  5. When I get home that night I have a call from PrecisionRx asking me to call about my prescription. I was hoping that it was a call to schedule the delivery, whoops, I mean “schedule the delivery”, since I had called them earlier and perhaps disrupted their process. But, no, it was a call to inform me that FedEx was not scheduling deliveries for my area because of the weather (!) and that the package had not yet left PrecisionRx and that they’d let me know when it does and that hopefully it will be here by Monday. Yes, let’s hope for that, shall we? Hell, let’s hope it gets here by next month, or the month after, because why should we have high expectations or anything stupid like that. And, FedEx, really? You’re not picking up in Indiana because it’s RAINING in Massachusetts? I have no words (HA! Totally wrong, yet again, I have a LOT OF FUCKING WORDS!) Yes, it’s a bit windy out there, but I was able to get out to pick up some cat food, so, really? Not so bad. Maybe there are flight delays along the way or something, but you could still pick up the package. You could make an effort to get the thing somewhat closer to me. You could try.

But, that’s the thing. No one in all of this was trying. Oh, everyone I spoke with was very nice. VERY nice. I have no complaints about the people, just about the process, because there’s no reason for any of this. If I got a prescription for Viagra (which is the only thing coming to mind as a prescription you could really do without when it comes down to it, especially since I’m a woman!) right now I could have the little pills in my hands in less than an hour. But have cancer? Be prescribed a real drug (yes, it’s new, but Tykerb has been on the market for more than two years now), by a real doctor, for a real life-threatening disease? And expect to wait a week. Expect to be jerked around by a process designed to cover some asses, I guess, why else? Expect to have your efforts to speed up this process be thwarted at every turn. And expect that everyone you talk to about it along the way will expect that you’ll be ok with it.

I am not fucking ok with this. I’m just not.

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(peek)

Still there?

OK.

So here’s the deal. You suck. Also you are idiots. Because if that thing does not get here on Monday, I am going to start making some calls. That’s not good, you see, because I don’t yell. Oh, no. I take names. I don’t mean kick asses and take names, I mean I will get your name, and your manager’s name and that person’s manager’s name and right on up the line. And with a very big chunk of Yankee Ice between my teeth, I will ask what you plan to do about this. None of you will know how to change it, so I will ask who DOES know how to change it. And so on. And I will be such a polite, precise, stabbing pain in your ass that you will be ready to buy the company just so you can give it to me and let me change it for you. Which I will not do because it is your job, not mine.

So get it done.

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Think fast!

Posted in Stacey Updates by dbancroft on February 24, 2010

Ha HA! I gotcha. You were all relaxitatin’ like old ladies in Florida, languidly beckoning the cabana boy to your lounge chair by the pool and ordering big fruity drinks with little paper umbrellas… weren’t you?

Yes you were, you liar, I saw you. You looked a little TOO comfy, see, so breast cancer decided to smack you upside the head with some suckiness.

Here’s our intrepid reporter and resident chemo-junkie, Stacey!

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Oh…hell.

Remember when I asked what that thing was that they called Good News? Well, turns out the answer is “Bad News”. I don’t know why I’m surprised by this.

Apparently I forgot to take something into consideration, or was considering that thing incorrectly, or my considerer is broken, or I stepped on something squishy in the middle of the night, or I didn’t give it a nice enough Valentine’s card, or I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND (though that could be the teenager). The numbers that started going down? The ones that started going up around the time we discovered the diabetes? The ones I thought were going down because the lesions in the liver were going away? Turns out those numbers were just going down because the diabetes was being controlled (not a bad thing, but not the good thing I wanted). In fact, the lesions weren’t affecting the liver function much at all (yet). This is goodish, but it also means that while I thought the old lesions were going away what was actually happening was that new lesions were appearing. Yeah, that sucks.

I found this out on Wednesday and it is now Tuesday and I’m only just now starting to feel a bit better about the whole thing. Do you know what dread feels like? If not, then I’m happy for you, but I’ll inform you now that it’s a burning in the pit of your stomach and an overwhelming feeling that you’re about to fucking lose it. It is not a feeling you want when you’re trying to celebrate your daughter’s 7th birthday. It’s not a feeling you want when you’re trying to enjoy the Olympics. It’s not a feeling you want when you’re trying to keep up at work so that they don’t fire your ass, which would really add insult to injury. IT’S NOT A FEELING YOU WANT, LIKE, AT ALL. So, I was happy to find this morning that I’m feeling a bit more straightened out than I was. It still sucks, though.

The new plan is Tykerb. They now use it in conjunction with the Herceptin because they do the same thing in different ways, and also because it’s hard to tell when the Herceptin is no longer working and needs a boost. The downside is that the insurance company puts you through hoops to get it (I STILL don’t have it 6 days later). I’d start complaining about Empire BlueCross BlueShield if I thought that this was in any way unique to them. Also whenever I call them I end up talking to the nicest people ever found on the other end of a phone. They sound nice (soft, lilting, southern accents), take care of problems, and always call back when they promise they will. Empire should thank its lucky stars they have these people because without them I’d be having a Twitter fit to end all Twitter fits.

TFDB also prescribed Aromasin, which is a steroidal aromatase inhibitor. (Say THAT ten times fast!) That means that it prevents the aromatase enzyme from converting androgens into estrogen, which is good if you have estrogen happy cancer. Wikipedia describes this action as “suicide inhibition”. I love that term! Hee! TFDB says that 80% of estrogen found in the body comes from the ovaries (problem solved when they were removed), so to address the other 20% you need to prevent the body from converting stuff into estrogen. It’s an estogen free zone up in here! By the way, I was just looking at Wikipedia to see what effects having next to no estrogen has on the body (none of which I seem to be experiencing) and I discovered that mushrooms (the table kind, not the “special” kind) have anti-aromatase properties. Wikipedia then says this: “Women who consumed mushrooms and green tea had a 90% lower incidence of breast cancer.” Cool!

TFDB also suggested that I start taking a daily aspirin, given the recent news about aspirin and breast cancer rates (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35426947/).

We’re going to do 8 weeks of the Tykerb and then test again. If nothing has changed then it’s on to a Taxol type drug, which would mean losing my hair again. Feh; hair shmair, I don’t care, but I’m hoping that this works so that I don’t have to live up to those words. I’m not keen on feeling the dread again.

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PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: It’s now February; it’s safe to take down your Christmas lights, AUNTIE DEB!

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Thank you, Auntie Stacey, for that depressing report on the recent suckiness, and NO thanks for your WOEFULLY UNINFORMED public service announcement.

It is, in fact, NOT safe to take my Christmas lights down. They’re the only thing keeping the government from reading our minds with radio waves. Just wear a tin foil hat, you say? AU CONTRAIRE, MON CHER! New research has debunked such ridiculous ideas, and today the well-prepared conspiracy nut protects the homestead with a barrier of electricity, MOST EASILY CONCEALED as simple, everyday Christmas lights. These also act as excellent protection against alien abduction; the nasty critters think your house is another spaceship and just blink a little “hey, man, how’s it hangin’?” as they pass by.

So if you want to put YOUR family in danger by following these dangerous seasonal trends, go right ahead, but when the black helicopters start circling or Quimby the cat is replaced by an alien replica, don’t come cryin’ to me! (You can send Ruby over, though — that kid rocks.)

Today’s deflection of unpleasant emotions brought to you by Yankee Ice. Got troubles? Well, keep ’em to yourself! Pop a refreshing cube of Yankee Ice and butter won’t melt in your mouth!