By Becky LaSalle
My husband Robbie was diagnosed with incurable, small cell esophageal cancer. Over the course of four years he had many treatments because of the nature of his disease. And while he fought hard, we had many experiences with the frustration of navigating the medical world. We had to learn a whole new language and we had to learn that doctors can be wrong sometimes, that nurses really run the world, that there would always be someone “higher up” to talk to at the VA and that you have to demand the BEST care possible in a system that often writes off terminally ill patients.
Cancer is expensive. Financially, physically, emotionally, it ravages your time, your checkbook, relationships with friends and family who “can’t handle it” and it breaks your heart. Terminal cancer takes away your ability to work, your income and any benefits before it takes your life. In our case, it took MY income as well. I learned to research treatments, navigate insurance companies, apply for assistance, and drive in the city. I learned that it usually takes years to be approved for disability and we had to be on disability for 24 months before we could apply for Medicare.
If I could give any advice to someone facing cancer––swallow your pride and accept the help of those who love you. Be your own advocate, do not wait for others to give you information, sit in front of the computer and research, make phone calls, visits, whatever it takes to get as much information as possible and then sit down with those who can objectively help you make decisions. If your doctor tells you to apply for disability, do it. The sooner you are approved the quicker you’ll get through the 24-month waiting period. And if you are hospice eligible, do it as soon as possible to help improve your family’s quality of life.
It was hard for me, but it was the best thing to do for Robbie and our family. It takes strength and courage. Don’t be afraid to take the steps that help you get through your journey.
As the only non-profit hospice serving Grayson, Cooke and Fannin Counties, Home Hospice has been serving our community for over 30 years. With 24/7 on-call services and local staff, we are here to serve you and your family.