Tag Archives: Brian Lawenda

Health Insurance Companies Now Dictate Your Cancer Care, To Your Detriment

Image Source: morgueFile / I Melenchon
Image Source: morgueFile / I Melenchon

 

 

 

Health Insurance Companies Now Dictate Your Cancer Care, To Your Detriment

I was disappointed (but not particularly surprised) to read a May 27, 2014 Wall Street Journal article yesterday, Insurers Push To Rein In Spending on Cancer Care.

For those of you who haven’t read it, please read that article.  It is ultra clear that certain insurance companies may not have your best health interests in mind, nor might your oncologist.

The fact I found most disgusting is that there are insurance companies in the USA offering oncologists $350.00 per month PER CANCER PATIENT if the oncologist puts that patient on the insurance company’s recommended regimen for the purpose of cost control and keeping expenses down.

Not too surprising, as some chemotherapy drugs can run over $100,000 per patient per year.

But think about that – if an oncologist has 250 patients, and only 100 of them are on the insurance company’s “recommended regimen”, that equates to $35,000 per month to the oncologist, or $420,000 per year.  What oncologist is going to pass that up?

What this means to you as a cancer patient is that the insurance company doesn’t care about you.  At all.  Which probably comes as no surprise.  Insurance companies just want to keep down costs associated with cancer treatments, and if your oncologist is one of those who gets paid $350.00 per month to put you on the routine recommended treatment regime dictated by the insurance company, you will be afforded less individualized care by that oncologist.

Still think your oncologist is working with your best interests at heart?

Your particular health situation might require more expensive chemo drugs than what the insurance company wants to pay for.  For instance, some of the newer drugs such as Kadcyla (aka TDM1), approved by the FDA in February 2013, is a new targeted therapy for women with HER2-positive secondary breast cancer.  It combines a chemotherapy drug (emtansine) with Herceptin. The treatment is delivered directly to the cancer cells, so the body’s healthy cells are not affected, which means that many of the usual side effects associated with chemotherapy, including nausea, hair loss, and vomiting, are avoided.  But the cost of it in the USA is $9,800 per month.

Do you think you’ll be offered this drug if your insurance company is one of those committed only to the bottom line and not the patient?

Mainstream medicine is BROKEN, people.  The patient takes it on the chin again.  Our standard of care, especially for cancer patients, is not only deplorable but unaffordable.  Big pharma and the insurance companies are running the cancer show, that much is perfectly obvious.

All the more reason why we as human beings would be better off putting our health insurance dollars into some kind of self-managed health care fund from the moment we’re born (like a college fund) and seeking the treatment providers who actually make a difference to us.  For cancer patients, in my opinion, that would be naturopaths, oncology naturopaths and integrative oncologists like Brian Lawenda (and, of course, cancer coaches!).

How to fight back?  Become self-empowered activists for your own health.  Ask your insurance company if it is one of those paying oncologists for recommending their treatment protocol.  Ask your oncologist.  If they are doing this, go find someone else who isn’t.  Better yet, find yourself a good integrative oncologist.  We vote best with our money.  If you need help locating someone, contact me.

The health care industry is so screwed up, who knows when it will (if ever) be sorted out and fixed.  As usual, it’s up to US to be informed and to make the health choices we need to make to get well.

References:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/insurer-to-reward-cancer-doctors-for-adhering-to-regimens-1401220033

http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2013/02/22/a-triumph-in-breast-cancer-and-another-expensive-drug/

http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/about/brian-lawenda/

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Help For Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)

Photo of neuron courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Renjith Krishnan
Photo of neuron courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Renjith Krishnan

Help For Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)

As a breast cancer coach, one of the things I hear all too frequently is that people who undergo chemotherapy have terrible troubles with peripheral neuropathy, termed CIPN.  For some, it’s a real problem, with long-lasting effects on nerves that sometimes never goes away. This article is dedicated to all who are undergoing chemotherapy right now, especially Taxol, with some tips and help to minimize the damage these drugs can do to your nerves.

What Is Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)?

CIPN manifests in different ways for different people.  Some complain of a burning pain in their hands and/or feet, some suffer from quite the opposite problem, numbness in hands or feet, making them feel clumsy and accident-prone.  One of my subscribers recently told me she had it so bad it nearly drove her crazy – she had all the symptoms, burning AND stabbing pain, as well as numbness in spots.

CIPN is caused by the chemotherapy drugs given to you to combat your cancer, and often the combination of drugs you receive dictates how moderate or severe your symptoms can be.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here – chemotherapy is HELL on your nervous system.  While I didn’t have CIPN – and I believe that I didn’t because of several alternative therapies I was doing in combination with the chemotherapy – I did suffer from fragile nerves after I finished chemotherapy, for quite some time.  I found that just sitting and having an animated discussion with friends would leave me literally trembling, which felt quite bizarre.

While science hasn’t quite figured out exactly what causes CIPN, one proposed theory is that the toxicity of various chemo drugs damages the myelin sheath – the protective covering around nerves.

There Are Things You Can Do To Combat CIPN!

One Chinese medicine doctor working at Johns Hopkins Integrative Cancer Center said via a webinar earlier this year that having acupuncture sessions, which must begin at the inception of chemotherapy to have the most effectiveness, was proving to be quite helpful for CIPN.

Today, however, my friend Elyn Jacobs shared an article recently released by the website Integrative Oncology Essentials: Complementary Therapies for Chemo-Neuropathy: An Integrative Oncologist’s Bag of Tricks.  This is a fabulous article, much needed by anyone suffering from CIPN.  It goes through the symptoms, probable causes, but best of all it lists 23 different complementary therapies that could make a difference for you and your CIPN.

I loved the fact that the article included meditation and guided imagery (both of which I offer cancer patients through my Change Your Life Meditation Course), it discussed the benefits of massage therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, Reiki, yoga, topical therapies, as well as a host of supplements that are known to help, such as glutamine.

This is a fantastic resource for us, many thanks to Elyn Jacobs for sharing it, and to Dr Brian D Lawenda, the author of the article.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-book on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!