I have been receiving treatment for my stage 4 kidney cancer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) for just about a year now. Today was the first time that I felt like a number rather than an individual patient. This is still the only place that I would want to receive treatment, but today was a disappointing day of treatment. I didn’t feel this way about all of the staff I saw today, but in general it was a poor experience. Apparently they have a lot of patients being seen on the third floor today and they didn’t help matters much. I was greeted by Gloria who is a housekeeper at the center when I got to my treatment room. She is also a fellow person from the San Francisco Bay Area who moved to Arizona. This was the bright spot in my scheduled appointments. I thought I was supposed to see my medical oncologist, Dr. Quan, but instead I was briefed on my current health status my one of his care managers. I had blood work done this morning, as well as on this past Monday. I noticed that my kidney function numbers had dropped since the last blood test. This coincides with the increase in dosage of my cancer treatment drug, Votrient. I wanted to find out if I needed to go back to the original dosage of 400 mg rather than the new dosage of 800 mg. I was told my my care manager that my kidney function was still good and that I should try and increase my water intake throughout the day. But, I was still disappointed that I didn’t get to speak with Dr. Quan directly.
I also had the opportunity to fill out an application for co-pay assistance for my cancer treatment drug, Votrient. I was told yesterday the cost of a refill of this medication. When I heard the amount I was shocked. It costs around $6000 for a 30 day supply of this medication. That is way too rich for this man’s blood. I am hoping that I will be able to receive assistance from this program to help pay for my newest cancer treatment drug. This seems to be a common theme for patients who have yet to meet their deductible for their health insurance at the beginning of a new year. After I filled out this application, the staff then asked me to change patient rooms to accommodate another patient coming in for appointments. I found this change annoying since it has never happened to me before. I was also supposed to meet with my naturopathic doctor and my nutritionist during this visit. Those meetings never happened. As soon as I was finished with filling out the application, I was told I was done for the day and to wait for the scheduling team to call me later in the day for my next round of appointments.
A fellow patient, whom I have known since I first started treating at CTCA, told me that Dr. Quan was now taking on a new set of cancer patients. He has been focusing on cancer patients with melanoma or kidney cancer. But now apparently he is also treating colon cancer patients as well. This may mean that he has less time for seeing patients, like myself. There are also going to be rumored changes to the treatment rooms on the third floor. The third floor is the newest addition to CTCA in Phoenix. The treatment rooms are private, unlike the rooms in the infusion area on the second floor with have cubicles. The changes for the third floor rooms will now include having two patients per room rather than just one. They will be removing the beds from the rooms and adding another recliner and another privacy curtain. The rooms aren’t that spacious as they are. I don’t think I would like to have another patient in the same room while I speak to my team about my condition. I will have to wait and see if this comes to pass. It seems to me that CTCA is going to have to start working on another phase of construction expansion at this point. Fortunately, they own much of the land that surrounds the current facility. With a new year comes new challenges and changes. I guess am going to have to learn to keep “rolling with the punches” as these changes occur.