The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (#sabcs16) is going on right now. It’s a huge and significant conference for those who specialize in breast cancer or have been touched by breast cancer. Results from clinical trials are presented, and breast cancer doctors, researchers, hospitals, etc. attend from all over the world. My oncologist, Dr. O, attends every year and is a regular presenter. This year, Baylor Dallas presented its findings of the cold cap clinical trial I could have been in but declined.
As I followed the hashtag on Twitter today, a picture from a presentation popped up showing the cost breakdown of some fundamental breast cancer treatments.
I was on pertuzumab (perjeta) and trastuzumab (herceptin). Look at the cost. This is not okay, and without the ACA, my insurance company could have not only declined coverage but dropped me simply because of breast cancer. This is NOT okay.
If my cancer comes back and is HER2+ again, T-DM1 is my best hope, to the best of my knowledge. To be honest, I try not to research my options if I go Stage 4. I can’t handle that thought. Look at the cost of it, though. This is NOT okay.
For you who advocate against the ACA, and truly believe in the “repeal and replace” mantra, DEMAND your representative support something that is more than HSAs and insurance across state lines. There MUST be protections against predatory insurance practices, and there must be something done to bridge the access gap. Do NOT be as arrogant as I once was to believe breast cancer wouldn’t happen to me. It did. I became the 1 in 8 at 37.
Another piece presented at SABCS16 reported about the sobering data showing diagnosis prior to 40 increase the likelihood of reoccurrence. Still another reported there has been an increase in brain mets for early stage diagnosis that later go Stage 4. This is NOT ok. We need more research for Stage 4 and more treatment options for all breast cancers. We need the people at SABCS. We need the ability to access and afford the remarkable discoveries they make.
Healthcare and access should not be a privilege. DEMAND it be as it should be-a right for all of us. After all, one of the unalienable rights promised by the Declaration of Independence is that of life. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. DEMAND access to healthcare as a right, not a privilege.
Today, I am grateful for the SABCS, for Dr. O, and for the researchers who discovered herceptin and perjeta. I’d be dead right now were it not for them.