Archive for April, 2012

Insurance Companies Be Damned!!!

Frustration with insurance companies is mounting.  Tate was scheduled to have a PET scan on Monday after his 3rd round of chemo.  A PET scan will give the doctors a good sense of how well the chemo and radiation have worked thus far.  This means that they can change the chemo protocol if the results aren’t what was anticipated.

On Friday Tate received a phone call from the oncologist’s office that said that he couldn’t have the PET scan on Monday as was planned.  He was told the insurance company hadn’t cleared the procedure.  Yesterday a letter arrived from the insurance company that explained the delay.  They were denying the procedure, saying it wasn’t “medically necessary”.  They don’t think that the procedure should be done until the end of the chemo.  This totally negates the idea that the scan should be done so that  if it isn’t working well the protocol can be changed earlier rather than later.

We’re lucky.  The oncologist’s office is willing to fight for Tate’s need for the scan.  But insurance companies know that if the doctor doesn’t take on the battle, as many doctors won’t, people may not have the time or energy for the fight.  When people are very sick, especially if they don’t have advocates, they are less likely to get into an all-out battle with an insurance company.  And that’s what the insurance company counts on.

So now we’re hoping that the scan will be done on Tuesday.  And if the insurance company continues to deny his right to have the procedure, we could be in for a long fight.

So, insurance companies be damned!

Hoping for the best,

Karen

 

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Third Round of Chemo Underway

As I write this, Tate is getting set up for the first day of round 3 of chemo.  Today will be the long day (5 to 6 hours) and then Tuesday and Wednesday will be the shorter days (2 to 3 hours).

He just had the regular doctor’s appointment that starts each round and there we found out a few things.  His white blood cell count is ok.  The Neulasta treatment after the last round helped to boost his white cell production.  The treatment also at least contributed to the leg pain he’s been having.  The back pain though remains more of a mystery.  It could be arthritis or a slipped disc.  Tate asked to see a chiropractor but the doctor wants to wait until after the next PET scan for that.  If the pain is due to metastisis, the bones are going to be weaker and a chiropractor could do damage. 

His calcium level remains a little high.  Again this could be a side effect of the chemo or it could possibly be a sign of bone metastisis. It could also be the result of his new addiction to greek yogurt and bowls of cereal – the only two foods that he seems consistently able to enjoy no matter how he is feeling.  And water – he has to drink more water.  Kidney function is at 90% and water would also help boost that toward 100%. Aside from the pain, the other question we had is why is he still feeling so much fatigue.  Again, no concrete answer but several likely possibilities; continued affects of the radiation, higher calcium level, effects of the cisplatin (the stronger of the two chemo drugs he is getting), dehydration, low magnesium… LOTS of possibilities.

SO – round 3 is this week.  The doctor has planned 6 rounds total.  In about 2 weeks he will do a PET scan and see what the radiation and half of the chemo have done.  It is clear to both doctors that they must be accomplishing something because the mass on his shoulder is gone and he hasn’t had the cough for at least two weeks.  GREAT signs. 

As we were leaving the office, Tate reminded Karen and I that the fatigue and bone pain could just be that he has “always been a wuss with pain.”  Although this seems like a harsh way to judge oneself while undergoing cancer treatment, it did offer me some relief and hope. Yes, maybe he does just have a low threshold for pain and the treatment is hitting him hard but with positive effects. And BTW which is it really; “Affect” or “Effect”??  I believe I will never really know for sure.

Till next time,

Julia

 

 

 

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Announcing the Grand Total

Well we’ve been talking for days here at Warrenton about all the ass-kicking that took place on Monday night. What an evening! I wanted to report back to everyone on the grand total raised for Tate from the event, and from subsequent online donations made on the blog. Drumroll please!

It’s up to… $4,500!

In concrete terms, this is five and half months of doctor and prescription co-pays for Tate. This goes to show the true power of community. Thank you everyone for rallying around Tate during this difficult time, and showing your support in many, many ways. I personally think they need to rename the phrase “cold hard cash” to “warm, fuzzy, friends-who-care funds.”

Several people have asked us if there is a way to donate online, so we’ve since put up a “donate” button on the blog (click here if you’re reading this in email). Please take a look on the right side of the page and you’ll see it- it goes through PayPal and you can use any credit card.

Again many thanks for both your love and donations. It makes a huge difference in both Tate’s and our lives!

xoxo Maureen

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And Last But Not Least

Jacques Lamarre. I could stop there. Nuff’said. But I won’t, gonna sound a little of the depth of Jacques.  Like a guy sounding the Mississippi in one of Mr. Clemens tales.

By the  “Mark Twain”, two fathoms, when there was no water underneath to float the boat of this benefit — there was Jacques conceiving the whole thing.  Seeing the event and executing it at the same time.

By the “Deep Six”, six fathoms, when it was well floated and moving toward reality Jacques kept the watchful eye on the thing and wade sure that it was going to be boffo!

And by the 20 fathoms, showtime!  Great MC, personally I liked the coat, in total control the entire evening and completely humble and humorous.

It was the best variety show I’ve seen in many a year — eclectic and entertaining! It was a wonderful night for me and for everyone involved.

Thank You Jacques!

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I Nearly Let This Slip My Mind

Two more miracles that I left out of my speech the other night.

One, the miracle of Cindy Martinez as HartBeat Family, actor, writer, teacher, playwright  — loved one.

Two, the miracle of Steamed Cheeseburgers.  Found only in Connecticut and, just by coincidence, the first time I had one was the first time I met Karen – girlfriend, paramour, companion, loved one, loved one, loved one.  This is the woman with whom I have trusted the mantle of carrying-on the tradition of creating my Passover Brisket!

Tate

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It Were A Kick Ass Night Indeed!

If you couldn’t be there last night here is a brief overview of the evening — and a little bit of how it landed on me.

First off Hannah made dinner for the home crew and Shannon.  Eggplant Parm, which I hear was boffo, I am not doing well with nightshade these days so she cooked a bit of Salmon for me special.  Hannah = the best.  Then it was off to the show and man it did not disappoint on any level!

Kali Quinn — I have watched her go from a student clown to a master clown before my eyes!  She was so funny and poignant!
Donna Berman — Cheated a little bit.  She rolled out Emma Goldman!  How could she possibly go flat reading from Emma.  Great choice!
Yolanda Allen — Made me cry.  First big boo-hoo of the night for this old boy.
Mixashawn & Abu Carter — Gave me a song, a new song for the evening and threw in a chant, a very moving, deep healing chant to boot.
Chris Brown — May be my new favorite poet.
Sugati & Chris — First time in all the years I’ve known her that I’ve seen Sugati dance! What a treat! The drum and the ringing thing made me feel like breaking out some Sanskrit!
Luis Cotto — Read an absolutely kick ass poem!
Taneisha Duggan — Made me blush and cry at the same time.
Julia Pistell — Funny as hell!
Sea Tea Improv — Funny as a Blue Dictionary in the ocean.
Maureen O’Brian — Her poem about a robotic surgeon named DaVinci in whose razor sharp mechanical arms she entrusted her life was chilling, touching and flat out beautiful.
Kevin Lamkins — Covered “What’s so funny bout’ Peace, Love and Understanding.” Elvis Costello?  What more needs to be said?
Jeff Zinn — Stimulated the revolutionary spirit of everyone in the room.  Reading from his father’s work and looking just like him.
Chion Wolf — Beautiful song. Beautiful Cello.  Beautiful guitar.
HartBeat — Deb Walsh is silly.  Hahaaaaaaaaaa!  Julia and Steve doing Dario Fo — nuff said there I think.  No wait, let me just say one more thing — Hilarious!
Greg Tate — Did okay.
Beat City Beauties — Hot satire.

It was a great evening.  Fun was had by everyone. I am once again humbled by the love and healing energy that has emerged for me from this community.  Amazing. Generous. Human.  Big time human beings living in Hartford and the Shires.

Tate

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This Morning and Tonight

FIRST – Turn your radio to WNPR or go to WNPR.org right now and click on ‘Listen Live’ to hear Tate on Where We Live talking about his battle with cancer and tonight’s  “Evening of Ass Kicking!” Our segment will be on at about 9:40 or 9:45.

THEN –  Don’t forget to join us tonight  at 7pm at the The Mark Twain House & Museum to see your favorite Hartford performers (as well as some out-of-state guests) read, sing or dance a piece from their favorite ass-kicker, survivor or trouble-maker. Here is the line up:

Kali Quinn, Gutworks
Donna Berman
Yolanda Allen
Mixashawn & Abu Carter
Chris Brown
Sugati & Chris
Luis Cotto
Taneisha Duggan
Julia Pistell
Sea Tea Improv
Maureen O’Brian
Kevin Lamkins
Jeff Zinn
Chion Wolf
HartBeat
Greg Tate
Beat City Beauties

The evening will invoke the energy, spirit and laughter we can all use to help Tate kick this cancer’s ass.

Show starts at 7pm and will be followed by dessert and beverages. Admission is free-will donation, no one turned away for lack of funds, and all proceeds go directly to Tate to help him cover his medical expenses.

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