Cancer by the Numbers

Cancer by the Numbers

1: Number of times a doctor told me, “Best-case scenario, you’ll be stuck with a ‘frankenboob.’ ”

0: Odds a doctor gave me that I’d be able to get chemo in time to save my life.

3: Months a doctor predicted I’d live.

10: Age of my daughter when I got this prognosis.

9,342: Number of miles I drove for cancer treatment in 2014 — not including travel for radiation therapy — after Stanford Hospital agreed to take me as a patient.

$250: Cost per pill for post-chemo nausea medication.

$0: Amount per pill reimbursed by insurance.

2: Number of pills needed per chemo treatment.

8: Number of chemo treatments.

$5,859:  Total cost of hotel stays during chemotherapy.

$1,300: Total tax deduction allowed for hotel stays.

117: Number of hours I spent on hold with insurance companies, listening to bad music playing in a loop, during cancer treatment.

0: Number of doctors, clinics, and hospitals in my area that would accept my health insurance after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed.

$300: Amount I paid for one hour with the only oncologist who agreed to see me, on the condition that I pay cash in advance.

4: Number of days I had to avoid human contact after each chemo session to prevent infection.

2: Trips to the ER during chemotherapy for a zero white-blood-cell count combined with fever that nearly killed me.

1: Pairs of shoes stolen from my hospital room while I was in surgery.

2: Nipples saved from amputation during my breast cancer journey.

7: Number of pinprick-sized tattoos I got in preparation for radiation.

6: Weeks of daily radiation.

141: Miles from my house to radiation treatment, one way.

24: Number of cupcakes my daughter and I distributed on my last day of radiation, mostly to strangers.

427: Number of times I’ve been felt up over the past five years.

$460: Monthly insurance bill for my family of three before the ACA.

$1,740: Monthly insurance bill for my family of three after the ACA.

$26: Line-item cost of two hospital Advils.

$7: Cost of crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

37: Number of times I crossed that bridge for medical travel.

$0.56: Amount per mile the government reimburses for business travel.

$0.415: Amount per mile the government reimburses veterans for medical travel.

$0.26: Amount per mile I was allowed to deduct from taxes for my medical travel.

57: Approximate number of weird, long-term side effects from chemo, including sore tendons, short-term memory loss, early menopause, and a tendency to like people a lot more than I used to.

3: Number of friends who died during my cancer journey, not all from cancer, and not including my mom.

$900: Monthly cost of renting cold caps, the “technology” designed to save my hair during chemo.

-30: Temperature the cold cap needed to be before I Velcroed it to my head.

15: Minutes each frozen cap had to be on my head before it got too warm and had to be replaced with a fresh one.

$35: Cost of a wig from the American Cancer Society after that technology failed me.

$11: Cost of the skull cap I wore when I wasn’t wearing a wig.

1: Number of skull caps I purchased because I didn’t want to give cancer an extra dime.

2: Number of times I had my hair done by a genius in Minneapolis who figured out how to put extensions on freshly chemo’d heads.

2,334: Miles I flew from my home to the hair genius in Minneapolis.

2: Number of houses I lost to wildfires during my cancer journey.

0.5: Number of houses my insurance company reimbursed for the losses.

2: Number of cars that crashed into rental properties my family owns during my cancer journey.

1: Number of cars that crashed into the coin laundry my family owns during my cancer journey.

1: Number of those drivers who were insured.

4: Number of times my car was broken into during my cancer journey.

0: People apprehended for any of these crimes.

170: Approximate number of essays I’ve written about cancer.

1: “Recovery Journals” I’ve kept since my diagnosis.

0: Regrets.


Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.

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