Chapter 6: The things we don’t talk about.

I could feel my cheeks blushing as I walked between the clothes racks, a simple black saddle bag grasped in my hands. It was a Tommy Hilfiger bag – one of the few brands sold at the tiny PX on base in Germany. I didn’t really need it. It was a silly thing to ask for… but I wanted it. I showed it to my Mom, “Could I get this?”

“Not right now, why do you need another bag?”

She was right. “I don’t need it… I just thought it was cool. My backpack is kind of big, ya know?” I’m sure I scrunched up my nose. My face does it without me thinking. “Never mind.” I shrugged it off, and walked back across the square, tan linoleum making a sticking sound with each step, hanging the bag up where I’d found it.

As a child, or youth even, I tried to not ask for a lot. I had plenty, more than I could have ever needed – though never to the point of excess. Except maybe our American Girl doll clothing collection. But considering the time spent playing with those things… I digress. I’m the child who asked for a new blanket for Christmas. Not because I needed one, but because I thought those woven cotton blankets we’d used before our household goods arrived were mighty comfortable. And asking for that bag, the moment I did so, is stuck in my head forever. My mom ended up going back to the PX and buying it for me, I later received it as a birthday gift. I still have it too. Before Ginny it was my go-to day trip bag, the front now spattered with pins from English castles. I love it, and I love it because my Mom bought it for me, but it cause a twinge of guilt in me, ever 10 years later. It is a thing I own for the sake of owning it, and not because it fulfilled a need.


Brandan and I have been very lucky. In the last six years we’ve both graduated college, purchased cars, and purchased our first home – all without acquiring more debt than required. We’ve made mistakes for sure (don’t, for the love of God, buy a Jeep… my mother warned me, but I was bent on owning that Jeep), but we’re young and learning. We’ve budgeted, but no one budgets for cancer. Which gets me to where I’m going:

Cancer is expensive. Even with insurance.

Because even with insurance medical care in this country is exorbitant. Because curing cancer requires specialized treatments. Because money is a finite resource and life doesn’t stop when you have to pay for cancer.

Because even with insurance we get bills like this:

Rituximab is one of 5 drugs. This is the bill for one dose. One dose of one drug that I will need 6-8 times to cure my cancer.

This is one bill. One bill, from one day, with just one drug. In the last three weeks I’ve had 2 CT scans, 1 PET scan, 3 CT-guided surgeries, and a handful of doctor appointments and blood draws.

We’ve applied for financial assistance through the drug companies and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. People are always quick to point out that we do have an out of pocket maximum through our insurance. This is true. Technically, for everything insurance chooses to cover, we should only owe $6000. This year. And when the cancer is gone, hopefully in six months, I will have to watch for it. I will have to get a CT scan every 6 months for two years. When you add all of that up you get $6000 this year, at least $6000 the next year, and another $6000 the year after that. In CT scans alone.


So when I post the link to my fundraiser, know that it is not something I’ve decided to do lightly. Asking for help, and especially monetary help, is not something I’m fond of by any means. Just writing this my cheeks are pink and hot again.


This is a long-term disease. Even when it’s gone it will still be hitting out pocket books. Every $5 helps. When my friend first created the fundraiser page and my phone was dinging every 10 minutes, I got all mushy and little bits of stress started melting away. Every time it gets shared, and a name I don’t know shows up in my e-mail, I get all mushy and little bits of stress continue to melt away. I have a mountain of stress, and slowly, little by little, day by day, it’s melting away.

So this is a link to my fundraiser:


I know so many people have already donated, and like I said – every cent is greatly appreciated. If donating isn’t your thing, please consider sharing the link. E-mail it, share it on facebook (feel free to tag me if you post it), send your friends here to read a little bit about our family’s current journey, and know that when we feel like this is the end of the world our friends are constantly reminding us that I don’t have to run through that field of jumping spiders on my own.


Thank you.

Continue the fun!

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  1. I love how you start your blogs with a bit of the past, then come around to the present – I've been meaning to tell you that. I'm happy to share your link with my network of people. <3

  2. Something I also learned in reference to your "maximum out of pocket" for insurance, the co-pay to the doctor is not included in that amount either. From August to December of 2013 I have 50 doctor visits. Luckly every one did not require a co-pay but a lot of them do and they are not covered by the insurance deductible. This is such a good way to help Jessica manage the costs of getting better and helping her to relieve the stress of being sick when you really don't "Look that sick"… Thank you to everyone who choses to help.

    1. Our insurance doesn't have a co-pay, because it is high deductible. So we are responsible for $6000, then they pay 100% of covered expenses after that. 🙂

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