Hey. This is Colleen.
I feel like it is time (and past time) for a lot of things. And while this statement could be applied to many, MANY aspects of my life, at this particular moment I’m talking explanatory statements and bales of gratitude. The show last night was unbelievably amazing. Bellingham friends, thank you for selling and buying wares for me. I can only say that I am extremely grateful, but that doesn’t come close to explaining how well loved it made me feel.
I guess all I can really say is thank you—to all of my friends and family and acquaintances for making a confusing and crazy situation somewhat easier to bear. A lot easier, actually. The financial help was much needed, and the cards, care packages, visits and general positive thoughts sent my way kept me sane in Mexico. I am hoping, by the end of this, to become an expert in negotiating the healthcare system. A year from now I would like to be able to give solid information to anyone asking about topics like:
-how to get quality care in Mexico
-how to qualify for Medicaid
-options if you are uninsured and don’t qualify for Medicaid
-what NOT to say on health insurance applications (i really fucked up on that one)
-charity care with physicians groups and hospitals
-…and so much more
Quality care in Mexico and the insurance application thing is all I really know about at the moment. Starting next month however, I’m making a full time job of figuring out the other stuff. I am hoping that by the time I get back from this last portion of treatment I will either have a job with benefits, or have some other sustainable way of handling the financial aspects of this situation.
As far as what happened, and where I’m at now, this is more or less what is going on. I went to Mexico to visit my parents at the beginning of April and thought I should go to the doctor. I didn’t really have any symptoms. I just hadn’t been to the doctor in a long time and figured I might as well. I’d seen a doctor down there a few years ago and it was something crazy like $4 for the visit. All the standard tests came back normal and it was only through touching my neck that the doctor suspected that something was wrong. A few weeks later I had a surgical biopsy scheduled. It came back positive for papillary thyroid cancer which had metastasized to the lymph nodes. In general, this cancer is slow to grow and easy to treat. Mine however, had spread to enough of my lymph nodes to require a bilateral radical neck dissection. It was for sure the most terrifying part of all this…really sharp knives really close to the carotid artery and jugular veins. After the surgery another test revealed that the surgery had not been able to get rid of all the cancer. Because of the size, location and number of tumors removed, external beam radiation was necessary in order to kill the cancer that was still there. I finished that treatment a few weeks ago and have to return at the end of October for iodine therapy—which is the standard therapy for this type of cancer. For me, the cancer has been atypically aggressive. I am hoping that after the iodine therapy, it will begin behaving in the normal manner (although I guess I actually just hope that it will be gone). I won’t know if the cancer is gone until I have a body scan a few months after the iodine treatment…so January or February.
The last couple of years have been kind of rough, these last few months in particular. I’m not just speaking for myself either. I think a lot of people will be happy to put this year behind them. I know I will. So here is to 2009 being better than 2008 (it shouldn’t have to try too hard). Thank you again for all the support. I cannot say it enough. I hope that you would feel comfortable asking me whatever. I’m around.