One of the librarians at my school suggested that I double-check my cancer-related expenses to make sure that I was not over-charged (She reads my blog, and at some point I told the world that I spent about $8500 on cancer-related expenses between October and April). I’m glad she suggested this. I contacted my insurance rep and asked her to meet with me and explain #allthebills. She came with a print-out of all of my insurance claims, and she was very kind. I was hoping that our meeting would end this way: “Oh my goodness,” she’d say, “We totally overcharged you. We’ll send you a check for $2000. Our bad.” Instead, the conversation was more like, “Yeah, the bills are right.” Damn it. So you wanna know how much it cost for me to have cancer (before insurance)?
I went back and looked at my receipts/bills, and after a few reimbursements (from an ER trip) and some re-organizing (there were some duplicate receipts), the total for my out-of-pocket expenses was $5667.22. I’ve said it before, but here’s my two-cents: only get cancer if you’re wealthy or have generous parents with whom you can live expense-free. The largest bill sent to Cigna Healthcare on my behalf was for the procedure that included my mastectomy and the baseline work for my reconstruction; it was $66,320.49. Because it’s public record AND you could look it up online AND I’m shameless AND I’ve had a few glasses of wine, I’ll tell you that I make $59, 061 a year. So, yeah.
Let’s talk about some more bullshit. I was at Panera the other day and I saw a sign advertising the St. Luke’s mammography van. I took a picture of it. It read, “This service provides 2D and 3D screening mammograms for women 40 years of age and over.” It made me a little angry. I envisioned myself driving to Wildwood Middle School on Tues., Sept. 6 between the hours of 7 -11 (that’s when they’re going to be available, FYI #checkthosetitties) and walking into the van. “Hi, I’m Jenny,” I’d say. “I had five months of chemo and I got my tits chopped off because I had breast cancer, but I was only 35. Do you scan 35-year old titties? Your sign says you don’t. Just curious BECAUSE SOME OF US YOUNGER WOMEN GET BOOB TOOMERS, TOO.” According to the Komen site, fewer than 5% of woman diagnosed with breast cancer are under 40. I wish the universe could have presented these odds to me in a different manner, perhaps in winning the lottery. But nooooo.
Here is a a conversation between my conscious self and my uterus:
Uterus: I spent 24 years menstruating, and yes, I admit that I didn’t work on a consistent basis, but talk to the old Endocrine System. It’s that bitch’s fault. If she had done her part and regulated your blood sugar levels, then my friends The Ovary Twins could have done their job and put an egg in me every month, but noooooooo #polycysticovariansyndrome. Here I am in your central cavity with nothing to do. I’ll just sit here and atrophy. As a female mammal you had one job: reproduce. But you can’t. Not without the help of science and alotta money. I’ll just sit here until you die and watch your dumb-ass bladder fill up and then drain. Fill up and then drain.
Me: Sorry, Uterus. I don’t know what to tell you. I wish I didn’t have to take Tamoxifen and become infertile. Think of your existence as permanent vacation. You no longer have to host any eggs, fertilized or unfertilized. You just get to chill.
Uterus: Yes, chill. And contemplate all that could have been. Sounds like a real friggin’ blast.
A few months before I got cancer I remember telling my mom, “If I get to be 37 and I’m still not in a committed relationship, I think I’ll pursue non-traditional pregnancy options.” My mom said something to the effect of, “I was talking to your grandma about this, and Grandma said, “Jenny doesn’t want a husband. She just wants a baby,” and I thought, “So true, Grandma. So true.” That’s not a practical option now. I’m infertile. It would cost so much money to fertilize my frozen eggs, and I really don’t want to ask my sister to carry my fetus, and I don’t know how I’d pay a surrogate. Adoption is expensive as hell, too. My sis, her husband, and her two kids (aged 4 and 1) lived with us this summer before they closed on their new house. Living with my niece and nephew provided me with some insight into having children–>That shit’s intense. In a way, I feel a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I wanted to have kids, but I can’t, and therefore, I don’t have to deal with a toddler who has lost her shit because I won’t take her to McDonalds to get a sundae at 9 AM. I think I just want to be the spinster aunt who misses Thanksgiving dinner because she’s attending a yoga retreat in Big Sur.
There are other pros to being infertile. I no longer feel the pressure to date. When I first started online dating a year and a half after my divorce (six years ago), I viewed it as a sociological experiment, and then it became fodder for some excellent story-telling. Then it just became depressing. Now there’s no pressure to meet a potential sperm-donor during my fertile years. My fertile years are gone. If you’re single, it’s society’s expectation that you seek out a partner, so I sometimes contemplate doing the on-line thing again, and I think of what my profile write-up would be:
Heeeeeeeey boys. Wanna meet up for a drink and see who first comes to the conclusion that it ain’t gonna work? I’m not totally sold on the idea that monogamy for non-breeders is the way to go, AND I’m infertile.
I remember driving home from family vacation with my sister and her husband a few years ago and thinking, “I can’t wait to go home and be by myself. I can’t believe these two have to go home and be together some more. FOREVER.” I’m a lone she-wolf. An infertile she-wolf. And I always find myself attracted to grumpy introverts whom I eventually grow to despise, so yeah, I guess it’s best to be on my own.
Speaking of being alone…I’m moving out of my folks’s house this weekend. I’m renting a cute little house in Dogtown, and I’m excited. The Cancer Days are over. But I’ll miss living with Dan and Sherry. My mom’s out of town, but Dad just made hamburgers, and we ate the patties on stale, sliced white bread. While we ate we watched a show about man-eating crocodiles in the Philippines.
My nipple-making-and-attaching surgery is scheduled for Dec. 16, but I think I’m going to switch it so that I don’t have to take all of those sick days (the 16th is the Friday before finals week. My plastic surgeon will be out of town on the 23rd, which would be the ideal surgery date). Right now I’m thinking of switching my surgery to the Friday before spring break, which is St. Patrick’s Day. HOWEVER, my new place is on the St. Patrick’s Day parade route in Dogtown, THE Irish neighborhood in St. Louis, and I really want to host a fantastic St. Patrick’s Day party. Is it wrong to postpone surgery so that I can host a party? (yes)
My implants seem to be fine. They look real, but they don’t feel real. I’m a little swollen on the left side, but that’s because I had some lymph nodes removed on that side (The Tumor Side) to assess the stage and progression of my cancer. I saw a Lymphadema specialist about a month ago, and she told me that I’ll have to wear a compression sleeve whenever I fly or drive through elevated regions #thatdemalife. I can totally see my brother-in-law giving me shit about my compression sleeve: “Whaddup, Dema?”
That’s my rapper name: Lil Dema