Questions & Lessons From Fawcett Documentary

June 25, 2009 update:  Editor’s Note: We are sorry to hear of  Farrah Fawcett’s passing.  We pray that she rests in comfort now, and we wish her family and friends peace in her passing.

We did watch Friday night’s Farrah’s Story on NBC.  Of all the blog postings I’ve written over the last 2 years, this blog received the most commentary, the bulk either on my Facebook page or sent to me personally.

So it would seem safe to say that Ms. Fawcett has some mission accomplished.  I never heard of anal cancer before this.  Little research has been pointed toward anal cancer treatment and cure. It is a deadly cancer, that from what I learned, easily metastasizes.  I should, therefore,  smile when my doctor gets too personal in that place during my annual exam.

I compliment the actress for the honesty of her treatment, reactions, and loss of dignity.  The last shot of her was unrecognizable. 

But at documentary’s end, I turned toward spouse and asked, “What do you suppose all of that costs?”  Knowing how much is cost for my relatively minor cancer (in comparison to Fawcett’s battle), he responded, “I hope she made a fortune in her career to pay for it.”  Besides the surgeries, hospital stays, x-rays and scans, chemo, the duffel bag of drugs and vitamins she ruffled through near show’s end, the round trip flights to Germany, the out of country housing, at home care, etc., the total cost is outside of my mathematical computation skills. 

Americans Must Consider the High Cost of Cancer Treatment

Americans Must Consider the High Cost of Cancer Treatment

I researched the internet, but there are too many variables. However,  that research fueled what I already know: if I had Fawcett’s diagnosis, I’d be dead now because I could not afford, even with insurance, her treatment.

A recent CNN report states, “One in eight people with advanced cancer turned down recommended care because of the cost, according to a new analysis from Thomson Reuters, which provides news and business information. Among patients with incomes under $40,000, one in four in advanced stages of the disease refused treatment.”

How sad is it when we humans must make the same choice that we often make for our seriously ill pets.  I, for one, would not want to jeapordize my family’s financial well-being to battle something that has a likely unfavorable result–mucho dinero por nada.

The report clarifies, “As costs rise, insurers are shifting a greater share to patients, says Neal Meropol of Philadelphia’s Fox-Chase Cancer Center. Many plans now require patients to pay for 20% of their health care — a heavy burden in the case of drugs such as Erbitux, which costs $10,000 a month…David Johnson, director of hematology and oncology at Nashville’s Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, says some of his patients have opted to stop treatment partly because of the cost. His own brother-in-law, a truck driver, turned down Erbitux when he was facing colon cancer. He says patients face a painful dilemma: ‘Do they pay out of pocket — sometimes in the thousands of dollars — or do they forgo the therapy to preserve for their family what modest assets they may have?’

Apparently I am not alone in my thinking.

A MSNBC reports concurs.  “It’s a particular issue for patients whose cancer can’t be cured but who are seeking both the longest possible survival and the best quality of life — and may be acutely aware that gaining precious months could mean bankrupting their families.

The prices can be staggering. Consider: There are two equally effective options to battle metastatic colon cancer, the kind spreading through the body — but one costs $60,000 more than the other, says Dr. Leonard Saltz of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.”

The issue laundry list is pages long.  This commentary barely cracks open the window of information and bad news for the every day American that may be diagnosed with a vicious and unrelenting cancer.

2 replies »

  1. First, thanks for watching and reviewing the documentary on Ms Fawcett. It is so rare that quality work is aired that we seldom regret not having television in our household.

    Of course, Friday past was to prove one of those occasions. It’s only through your words that I am able to vicariously gain some insight into the tragic circumstances Ms Fawcett faces. Thank you.

    Sadly, you were able to succinctly focus on the crippling costs of medical treatment, even with the augmentation and constrictions of medical insurance.

    In our lifetime you and I have seen radical change in the practice of medicine, from compassionate house calls by doctors, to the wonders of digital imaging scans, and transplant surgery. Economist Alan J. Auerbach demonstrates the rising costs of medical expenditures to be 147% over the past 50 years.

    The question must be asked, “How much more of the increasing medical expenditures can the public be expected to incur?” Perhaps medical practice should work towards again making house calls rather than reaping larger profits.

  2. According to the posting, “A recent CNN report states, ”One in eight people with advanced cancer turned down recommended care because of the cost, according to a new analysis from Thomson Reuters, which provides news and business information. Among patients with incomes under $40,000, one in four in advanced stages of the disease refused treatment.”

    One in eight, one in four …. we’re doing a lot better than the nationalized healthcare system in Brittain. There, if you are a woman over 60, for the most common types of breast and ovarian cancers, you would be one in one, ten in ten, 100 in 100. They have figured out what people here need to learn. NO ONE can afford to cover ALL medical costs for EVERYONE!

    And the more that gets spent to keep people alive longer, the more it is going to cost to continue to continue to try to play God with healthcare.

    Palin in 2012!!!!

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