My last full chemo treatment was June 3rd. I still get Herceptin every three weeks to target the HER2 protein, but it doesn’t carry the same dire warnings of potential side effects. I have hair now and my fatigue is nearly gone. However, some effects are still making themselves known. I have begun to notice how easily my fingernails are chipping and breaking. If I pick the remote up off the table, one breaks. If I get a glass from the cabinet, another nail breaks. They began breaking into the nail bed and bleeding. Here is my chipped fingernail after opening the mail:
I spoke with a nurse and the first thing she asked me was if I had been on Taxotere. When I said yes, she gave me a sad look and said that was why my nails were breaking. One of Taxotere’s known side effects is fingernail changes. These changes range from discoloration of the nails to the nails actually falling off. While I am very thankful that I still have my nice pink nails, I am very tired of them breaking constantly. I have to wait for the Taxotere affected nails to grow out. That can take three to six months. *sigh*
Speaking of ordeals, my husband has taken on all of the bills related to my cancer treatments. Wait, before I get to that, I have to talk about how awesome my husband has been. He didn’t want me to stress out about the bills. He told me, “Your only job is to get better.” God, I love that man. I have had cancer twice in 15 years and he has stepped right in to take care of me. He has never hesitated. I am beyond grateful that he is my husband. And he’s hot too!
Back to the money. My husband had gone to our insurance’s website to gather some documents. He decided to tally how much we have been billed, just for my cancer stuff, so far this year. He called me up and told me to guess.
That’s right. My first appointment with the doctor to check the lump was January 13. So in ten months, I have racked up nearly half a million dollars worth of medical bills. No one can tell me that financial distress is not a side effect of cancer treatments. My husband and I are extremely lucky that we have decent insurance through his employer. As a result, we have a $4,000.00 deductible and $4,000.00 out of pocket cap. So out of the total, we only have to pay $8,000.00. Unfortunately, we don’t have that money just sitting around. However, it is a ton better than half a million.
My point is that not all side effects are physical. And some of these effects will last much longer than the treatment itself. No one should ever have to worry that they’ll save their life, but lose all financial ability or comfort.