Hurry Up And Wait
Last updated: January 2023
Recently I have experienced some things in the medical community and with medical care, inspiring me to write an article about it.
The saying "hurry up and wait" could not be more fitting for the cancer community. It is a hurry-up-and-wait situation from the day you get the devastating cancer diagnosis. You have to wait to see the oncologist, for radiation, for insurance approvals, for medications to be given, for a plan to be put in place, and the list goes on and on. Your doctors try to get the ball rolling quickly, but it always seems not quickly enough.
We want our life-saving treatments to start immediately, but unfortunately, they do not.
A lack of urgency
A friend recently experienced a lack of urgency within the cancer community. She scheduled a mammogram and went to the appointment. The mammogram went off without a hitch, except "something" was found on the scan. Typically, if something is suspicious on a mammogram, you are then ordered to do more testing, which will most likely be an ultrasound of the breast.
When I had my mammogram, I was immediately sent to have an ultrasound, but not all centers are the same. My friend went to a center to have a mammogram that was not a designated breast cancer center. The next available appointment for the ultrasound was over 20 days away. That is unacceptable. Not only is that a very long wait for someone nervous and anxious about scan results, but a lot can change in a few weeks.
Waiting with anxiety
My experience with the hurry-and-wait mentality is slightly different but still unacceptable. It is cold and flu season, and I fell victim to a terrible cold/strep sickness. For six days, I was sick, and then a nasty cough started. Also, I started to experience chest pain and heart pain. When I called the oncologist and relayed what I was experiencing, I was told a chest scan could be ordered if I would like. I, of course, said yes, and called the scan center to make an appointment.
I was informed that because it wasn't a stat order, the soonest I could have the scan was five days away. Five days for someone with a terminal disease and may have pneumonia or even worse? I know you are probably thinking, why don't you go to the hospital? I do not know about you, but I avoid the hospital like the plague, especially the hefty bill that comes with a hospital visit or stay. So I hurry up and wait with anxiety through the roof.
We need better care
These are just a few instances where we in the breast cancer community are pushed to the side and told to hurry up and wait. There needs to be better care, especially for us with stage 4 cancer. I understand it can not always be a rapid test or response, but it needs to be improved. I think a scan center or doctor's office should leave one slot open a day for emergency appointments or scans, but that is just my opinion.
What is your opinion?
Do you feel like you are told to hurry up and wait for your advanced breast cancer care?
Have you been successful in getting financial assistance to help with your medical costs?