On October 10, 2005 I was in a serious auto accident at Denver International Airport. On a snowy night a city snowplow truck hit me broadside totally destroying the vehicle I was in. I was pinned in the vehicle and had to be cut out. I was transferred to Denver Health One Hospital by ambulance and after having x-rays and CT Scans the doctors determined that I only had a chipped tooth, torn rotator cuff, and minor injuries to my knee. It was during the CT exam that they discovered that I had a tumor in my pancreas. Having no prior knowledge of this even with a complete physical every year what a blow this was to me and my family. The next day I had an appointment with my general doctor and he sent me to an amazing surgeon, who after several tests introduced me to fantastic oncologists. Between the two of them they felt surgery was my best option since the tumor was small and confined. I had half my pancreases removed and spleen. The biopsy result was that I had a neuroendocrine non-functioning islet cell tumor. After the surgery my doctors felt that I did not need to go through any additional therapy since the disease had not spread and they were able to remove the entire tumor. I went in every three months for a CT scan to make sure the disease remained inactive. A year and a half later, my cancer had matastesized to my liver. My oncologists and surgeon sent me to a radiation specialist who thought I was a good candidate for a fairly new procedure called SIRT (selective internal radiation therapy). With this procedure and six months of chemotherapy I was once again in remission. In July of 2008 a CT scan showed that I had active tumors in my liver and in a couple of abdominal lymph nodes. I underwent Radiation Ablation and began a once a month injection of Sandostatin (a form of chemo). Currently my disease is inactive but I will continue the Sandostatin injections indefinitely.
All this seems great but it has been very difficult getting all these procedures okayed by my insurance company. I had to go through all the denial steps for most of my surgeries and even had to get lawyers involved to get the SIRT procedure done. This is the topic I want to express my thoughts about most, people with cancer should not have to fight for procedures with insurance companies to make there life easier and to cope with this disease. Having cancer is such a change to your life because it is something you have no control over. You depend on other people to get you through this. I also believe that we should make sure the drug companies are using the funds to find cures for all types of cancers and not just the “popular” ones and not stopping after they find a drug to slow down the progression. Not that these drugs are not necessary because this is only way to fight some cancers, but we must make sure a lot of research goes to finding cures and procedures to detect cancer in its early stages. But most of all we have to fight the insurance companies to let the people have the exams, procedures, and see the specialists they need to help fight this disease. My wife and I are still having problems; I can’t get a simple PET SCAN (this is the only test that can determine if my cancer is active or not) and my wife can’t get a breast MRI that has been requested by her doctor, surgeon and radiologist. I hope someone of importance reads this and takes note of some of the things I have said. I am a 63 year old male and have been fighting my cancer now since 2005. I own my own business and still work for United Airlines and am in pretty good shape for everything that I’ve been through. I definitely feel that I still have some life left. I thank God, my family, and my doctors every day as I continue to fight this battle.