Medicare — Made It!

This is my 65th birthday and I am wildly happy. I usually don’t greet birthdays with happiness but this one is different. After fretting about the possible loss of health coverage, preexisting conditions and COBRA coverage running out, I am now eligible for Medicare. It has been a long 5 years.

My 60th birthday was far from happy. Just a few days before my birthday, my OB-GYN found a lump in my right breast. The subsequent diagnosis was that I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer. This kind of breast cancer does not respond to hormone therapy. It is triple negative because it is negative for estrogen receptors (ER-), progesterone receptors (PR-) and HER2 (HER2-). It is a nasty kind of cancer that affects about 15% of breast cancer patients.

The treatment protocol was to have neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which means that chemotherapy is given before surgery. It was followed by a lumpectomy and then by 5 weeks of radiation. This course of treatment worked exceptionally well for me. It was not fun.

Most of 2011 was devoted to doctor’s visits, infusions and feeling pretty lousy. Post treatment, I joined a program run by Stanford and the YMCA called Living Strong Living Well. It consisted of group cardio exercise and weight training. It was very nurturing to be in a group of other bald headed, pale, weak patients. The atmosphere was welcoming and the trainers were skilled at helping patients recover strength and regain a positive outlook.

During the first week of chemotherapy treatment, I was asked to participate in a clinical trial. It was a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study of Denosmab. The purpose of the study was to see if the drug would prevent cancer from spreading to the bones.

For the past 5 years I have been getting an injection every 4 months. It may or may not be Denosumab, since there is a 50% chance of getting the placebo. The clinical trial is very complicated and costly and will take years to complete before getting FDA approval. I am now the end of my commitment to the trial and hope that my participation has helped.

I am very grateful to my Oncologist, Dr. Martha Mann and to my kind and loving husband, Bob. So many friends and relatives took this journey with me by phoning, bringing soups and casseroles, taking walks and most of all by praying for my recovery.

It has been a very eventful 5 years for our family. We celebrated two of our daughters getting married. We took wonderful trips to Greece and to Portugal. Bob and I took many great walks by the ocean.

It is now time to enter the “Medicare” phase of my life. There is much to look forward to and to enjoy. We are anticipating the birth of a little grand daughter in April. What a blessing for this phase of life.

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