Since my diagnosis I've, naturally, been reading (thus far only positive) books on the subject. One of them is Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris Carr. I had actually seen an Oprah show with her years ago so when cancer started to be part of my personal vernacular, I remembered her story and sought out her books. One of the chapters in this particular book is entitled, Go Ahead--Use the Cancer Card. This card comes with some perks including swiping it for the following reasons:
No I can't do the dishes. I have cancer.
I need to rest. I have cancer.
I regret to inform you that due to cancer, I will not be able to attend your "fill in the blank of whatever you don't want to attend".
Unfortunately, when dealing with loads of phone calls to cancer hospitals, pulling out your cancer card is, well, not so effective. That's when I realized that I have two more cards in my arsenal...
The Infertility Card
The Adoption Card
And boy, those two worked magic today.
Me: I'd like to have my slides sent to Sloan-Kettering for a 2nd opinion.
Rather brusque woman at NW who is the keeper of slides henceforth known as Matilda: Your slides have already been sent to MD Anderson.
Me (not understanding that they send originals--I mean, I JUST found out I have cancer and now I'm expected to know how this process works?!): Oh, ok. So how would I get Sloan-Kettering to review my slides?
Matilda: You will need to call back to see if they have been returned.
Me: Is there a time-frame for that? I don't really want to call you every day...
Matilda: I don't know how long they may keep them. It could be today, it could be weeks from now. I don't have the time to keep up with everyone's file on a personal basis so I'm... blather, blather, blather, I'm not paid enough to keep track of these things....yada yada.
We go back and forth a few more rounds, getting nowhere so...
Me (whipping out my Adoption AND Infertility cards--this is no time to be frugal): I'm sorry but I was just diagnosed and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have 2 two-year olds, one of them I finally was able to have after YEARS of infertility and then we just got back from China with her orphaned sister who had a cleft lip and palate. I just have so much on my plate right now and my priority is trying to just stay alive so that my children won't be left motherless, especially Lucy since she has already lost one mother in her short life....
Matilda: OH HONEY!
Lengthy discussion about how pathology slides are prepped and sent, what the steps are, how long that will normally take, etc. etc.
Let me just pull up your file here real quick...yes, I see that MD Anderson has actually just requested more slides and these are to be unstained with new tumor samples. That means they are being prepped now but probably won't go out, because of the holiday, until Tuesday.
Me: Oh. That long?
Insert well-timed out-burst by Lucy beckoning for my attention, and me, sotto-voiced, telling her that "Mama is on a very important phone call; can you please wait just a little bit longer and then I'll give you something to eat".
Matilda: Let me see what I can do for you. Oh yes, the slides are actually ready to go. I'll be sure they get out in today's mail and they should be there by Tuesday. My name is __________ and you can call me back by the end of next week to get a status update. Do you have any other questions that I can help you with?
Me: No, I think you covered everything that I can think of. Thank you so much for all of your help and insight in navigating this process...it's a bit overwhelming to say the least!
Matilda: I understand, now you just go love on those babies and give that poor orphan child some food!
Plane flight, hotel, taxis in Houston and NYC for 2nd opinion visits: $2,500.
Groceries for new, improved, mostly vegetarian diet to improve health: $200/week.
Use of Adoption and Infertility cards to speed up paperwork: Priceless.