Posted by: Ken Wheatley | July 13, 2009

Still waiting…and the costs add up

We were supposed to hear today from Dr. B or Dr. G about their conversation concerning the radiation treatment protocol that Sheila received. For some reason the start time of the USC trial hinges on that answer. Nonetheless, Sheila has to wait a minimum of another week anyway, but it is the waiting that’s a bit nerve-racking. And painful. She’s had to double-up on the pain medication in order for it to be “tolerable.”

As for the monetary costs, it wasn’t until the trip home from LA that we started to think about the ancillary hard and soft costs involved in all this treatment. The national dialogue focuses on prescription and overall health care costs, but in addition to those there are also the vehicle miles/upkeep, parking, co-pays, taxis, trains, meals, airfare, our time, telephone, fax, copying of records, etc.

We haven’t been keeping track, which is probably good, because I think we’d be very surprised. On a website called CURE, people actually talk about their mental tug-of-war between paying their portion of the medical bills or forgoing treatment altogether. Seriously?

It hit home tonight when we were making the travel arrangements to Houston – oh yes, we got the appointment at MD Anderson! – and the airfare alone is close to $1600 on Southwest. We could fly to Europe for that!!!!  Part of the problem is the last minute green light for appointments and the airlines hit you hard under those circumstances.

But you can’t put a price tag on trying to save a life, right? It certainly brings the national healthcare conversation home in a tangible way.



  1. Glad your finally going to MD Anderson. I believe this was one of Joel’s suggestions or connections 18 months ago? Thinking of you both.

    Cathy & Joel

  2. I suppose it all adds up to what your priorities are…..
    What is Money?? Only an exchange for something that you want or need….As the saying goes…You can’t take it with you, so Sheila, spend as much as you need to in order to get well again. You can always make money, take the best care of yourself. I am one of Karen’s friends who works at Marriott….Please let me or Karen know if I can help with my discount for rooms which I can extend to you both…. You can save alot of money on lodging when going for treatment…Please let me or Karen know and I will get them to you ASAP…I pray for you daily Sheila, focus on your health right now, and don’t forget to ask God for peace and guidance. Sincerely Arlene

  3. We have had the American Cancer Society help pay for some of our travel costs. My husband goes to chemo about an hour from our house once a week and has been since last year. They can help you out with this.

  4. I also wanted to let you know we have been keeping you and Sheila in our thoughts. It frustrates me to no end how these wonderful people in our lives can get such a mean disease. Its so unfair. I always feel so helpless sometimes when all I want to do is help!! Hang in there my friends (Hugs!)

  5. Hi Arlene, You’re right of course about money not being important in the grand scheme of things. Sheila’s life is priceless to me. What I was attempting to convey was that, until you’re in the thick of something like this, it’s an aspect, a scope, of illness that we don’t even think about. We’re fortunate that we can afford it, but it was a wake-up call to how others experience the pain and panic when confronted with these unexpected costs. Thanks for the offer about the hotel. It’s our understanding that MDA has an arrangement with the hotel that’s connected to the hospital. This first trip will be a learning experience, so if there’s a Marriott nearby, we’ll let you know. Thanks,Ken (and Sheila)

  6. That’s an interesting piece of information. Thanks for the heads-up, Christi…Ken

  7. That’s why we do what we can for them, when we can. It may not cure the disease, but those moments of caretaking are salve for the soul – of both .

  8. I checked and there are several Marriotts in the Houston area (Galleria). Sometimes the hospital will make several lodging recommendations,Marriott usually being one of them. If that is the case let me or Karen know and I will send you the discount forms. Sincerely, Arlene

  9. Thanks Arlene. If we end up going back after Thursday, we’ll be sure to let you and Karen know.

    Thanks again for the generous offer.

    Take care


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