I’m Afraid to Touch My Boobs

I lost my job on March 19,2013. While I rustled up about 6 jobs to replace it, I wasn’t able to get health insurance. My health insurance ran out April 1st and since then I have applied for a single policy with every insurance provider I could think of. The thing is, I have psoriasis and migraines. At certain points, doctors have petitioned insurance companies to get medication they thought I needed. From what I understand, the medication that has rendered me uninsurable is Enbrel, an injectable biologic drug that suppresses the immune system. You can read about my psoriasis situation in older posts about my dermie to learn more about what it is and how it impacts my daily life.

Anywhoo, the last time a doctor prescribed Enbrel I was going through a divorce, had just moved, was way stressed out at work, and a mess. The medicine arrived, I took one dose, read about it on the internet and decided not to take it anymore. The side effects are too dangerous, it didn’t work for everyone, and it wasn’t worth the risk. I’d rather be scaly.

Little did I know the decision to take one dose would impact my life so much. After being turned down for individual policies I talked to yet another insurance broker who attempted to get me Anthem Short Option policy. She said she’d only known one person to be denied, and they were actively on the expensive medication. But because Obamacare is coming I DID get denied. There was the option Virginia Assured insurance, but it was about $1000 per month, which is impossible.

I can sign up for the new health insurance, which is great, and I’m going to do that any day now, I swear. The insurance broker told me it didn’t matter when I registered. From what I’ve been reading it is way more expensive than people anticipated, so I’m kind of afraid to go through with it.

Which brings me back to my boobs. I never used to do a self breast exam, mainly because my doctor told me that I’m such a hypochondriac that I’d drive myself batty, but when my cousin Lori got diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age, I started.

Every month now, though, I am terrified to touch my boobs. Because what if I found something?

Note: I tried to put a picture of a metal bra right here because I thought that would be funny but for some reason WordPress won’t let me. So, look here: http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/tv-commercials/charlie-bras-iron-bra-2132255/

I did some research to see how much it would cost me if I DID find something during a self breast exam. The answer? A lot. A really lot. Here’s the breakdown:

Cost for initial doctor exam: $145
Cost for mammogram: $80 – $120 with a two week wait for results. A place here in Richmond does them for $200 and gives instant results, but I don’t know if that’s with or without insurance. (It’s the Paredes Institute, in case you need to contact them).
Cost for BRCA1 or BRCA2 tests : $3000, but in all fairness not usually covered by insurance anyway. To learn more about those tests visit the National Cancer Institute Website.
Cost for a partial mastectomy, not including breast reconstruction: $15,000 to $55,000
Cost for a radical mastectomy plus pathology costs: $39,000 – $65,000
Please note that a money.msn article stated that RealSelf says the costs for a mastectomy, anesthesia and reconstruction “can exceed $20,000.” I got those other numbers from costperhealth.com. Either way, it’s expensive, yeah?

Those costs don’t even touch the total cost of trying to treat breast cancer. Some chemotherapy drugs, without insurance, can cost way more than $10,000 per treatment. There are programs in place for people without insurance, and a lot of the charities can help raise money for treatment.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and out of respect for my dear Lori, who died at the insanely young age of almost-36, I wanted to put this information out there. For once, a post that started about me turned into be something more informative.

As for me, I’m still afraid to touch my boobs, but I do it anyway, and I’ll pay out of pocket for a yearly checkup because I’m due for an appointment before my shiny new insurance kicks in.  I guess I could rant and rave about how it’s hard to get good (or any) healthcare and how everybody is out for money and nobody cares and blah blah blah but maybe things are going to get better.

I was going to try to make this funny but it didn’t work. Sorry.