Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tackling the financial toll of cancer, one patient at a time - The Washington Post

Even before Scott Steiner started treatment for a rare gastrointestinal cancer that had spread throughout his abdomen, a dangerous side effect threatened his health.

His doctor had prescribed the cancer drug Gleevec, but Steiner's insurance refused to cover its $3,500 monthly cost. Steiner, a warehouse manager for a publisher of Bible-themed literature, and his wife, Brenda, a part-time nurse, made just $30,000 a year. No way could they afford the drug on their own.

"We still had six kids at home — how were we going to come up with that kind of money?" Steiner said. "We couldn't re-mortgage the house, because it had already been re-mortgaged. I wouldn't have been able to take the medication. We would have had to just trust in the Lord."

It was a scary brush with "financial toxicity," as researchers call the mix of economic stress, anxiety and depression cancer patients often endure. But then Steiner was assigned to Dan Sherman, an oncology social worker at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center who within days got a free supply of Gleevec from the manufacturer. He also made sure it was delivered promptly. The package arrived at Steiner's home on Christmas Eve, his 46th birthday.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

It’s All in Your Head | Wellcome Book Prize

A neurologist explores the very real world of psychosomatic illness.

Up to a third of people who go to see their GP have symptoms that are medically unexplained; in many of these cases an emotional cause is suspected. And yet, when it comes to a diagnosis, 'It's all in your head' is the very last thing we want to hear, and the last thing doctors want to say.

In 'It's All in Your Head' consultant neurologist Dr Suzanne O'Sullivan takes us on a journey through the world of psychosomatic illness. We meet patients like Pauline, who has been ill all her adult life, Camilla, the lawyer with the perfect life – except for her unexplained seizures – Yvonne, who was blinded at work by cleaning spray, and Rachel, a once-promising dancer now stuck in the purgatory of ME.

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