dear penn medicine, enough already asking for money in 2017

This is what makes me dislike non-profits. There is only so much giving one can do in a calendar year, and well Penn Medicine? I give enough right now. I was so excited to have FINALLY paid off my oncology/radiation bills which were quite expensive and took a few years. That was not through Penn, that was through Lankenau because at the time Penn did not have a location for radiation close enough to where I was working, and well, I worked through breast cancer treatment.  They also did not have the radiation oncologist I wanted.

But seriously, there I am doing my happy dance because I finally paid off radiation – every single penny they said I owed….and…wait for it…along comes a series of bills related to 2017 procedures and a surgery that equal a few thousand more  in hospital and hospital related bills.  I think I did cry when I got them out of sheer frustration. In addition to these bills, I have has SO many co-pays in 2017, including $70 for every physical therapy session, multiple times a week for months – which I paid because I need the therapy. And my knee surgery anesthesia was also an additional bill because the anesthesia is a practice within Chester County Hospital where I had my surgery and not under the hospital umbrella, so that bill counted like an out of network thing.

At almost the same time I am getting these bills I get a letter asking for an additional donation on top of the non-profit events I support annually.

I took to twitter and told Penn Medicine how I felt:

This cause a flurry of communication from Penn Medicine promising to do better. Apparently that promise meant additional solicitations?

So I sent my new e-mail buddy a response to his e-mail this morning:

Subject: Re: You can advance medical breakthroughs that benefit all of us!
Date: 9/17/2017 11:43:19 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time

Dear Thomas,


Oh I got your letter all right and I put it on Twitter because it was kind of offensive to receive a request for a donation practically the same day I found out I had over $4000 in residual hospital bills from a recent surgery and procedures.


Always a hand out means I stop supporting and so do many others.


And the fact that I have a few thousand dollars outstanding in bills I owe the hospital for which I am obligated unless of course I wish to send tax returns and pay stubs and other dehumanizing things to be quantified as a “charity case”.


I think in 2017 I have contributed quite enough to the hospital’s bottom line.


Furthermore, I support events like the annual wine festival to crush cancer at the Dilworthtown Inn, and Chester County Day.


In addition to supporting those events I also write about them free of charge on my website – that’s free advertising for Penn’s events. I don’t get any kind of donation in kind letter for that, and as you know the cost of advertising and marketing, that’s quite a nice donation in addition for which I don’t get credit.


Until this year my personal email address was only in the system for the nonprofit events that I support that I mentioned, and so I could communicate with my care team via my Penn medicine.


In summation, I have paid a lot of hospital bills the past few years and a lot of doctors bills the past few years – and Penn doesn’t have to chase me to get its money. I think a thank you is in order… not a damn request for more money!


Thank you.

Posted in breast cancer, health insurance | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

bumps in the road

Life likes to throw us curve balls. It’s fate’s way of making sure we are paying attention.

I am a cancer survivor. Which means sometimes things cancer make me feel emotions in technicolor.

Recently, one of my childhood friends lost her mother. I spent the day with both of them the week before her mom passed…. from cancer. I sat with her mom that afternoon for a while by myself as her mom dozed and my friend walked her dog. Her mom murmured here and there in her sleep, and at one point woke, looked at me, smiled and patted my hand, and went back to dozing.

I was glad I had that one final afternoon with both of them.

Yesterday I sat with her at her mom’s house as we went through photos for the memorial service.

It was hard to do, yet it was a beautiful thing. My friend’s mother had all these photos of her family. A lot of people don’t save those photos. It was so cool for my friend to see her history. And we had serious giggles at some dour old Victorian Scotswoman who was one of the unnamed relatives. It’s like she was disapproving of us from the photograph.

My friend’s mother was lovely. Quite the beauty when she was young. We saw her grow up in black and white snapshots, and her parents too. We saw her with her ponies and then horses. Her favorite cat. Her wedding announcement from the front page of the then Sunday Style section of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times.

As this is all unfolding, another friend from back in the day is dealing with her own news. I hate it when lymph nodes light up like a light on a Christmas tree.

I have something to tell you she said. I was not expecting that news. The news of surgery followed by the now great unknown. Chemo? Radiation? Nothing?

I remember when now over six years ago, I first got my news of what may or may not lay ahead. I remember the feeling. Feeling like the room was swirling or maybe my desk chair was swirling. Only in reality, what was swirling were my emotions.

The unknown components were hard. But I wanted to be ok, so I had to learn to have faith.

I want that sense of faith for my friend. She’s one of the strongest women I know so my money is on her. But I don’t want to just tell her, I want her to read it. So hopefully she will read it.

I want to tell her that I know she’s scared – that is totally normal. But I also want her to know she will get through it. Start small- set goals. First goal? Surgery. Then we see where we are.

I also want to tell her as a friend I cherish her. She is loved.

Bumps in the road. It’s part of life. We need to learn to roll with them. But damn, it’s hard. We would not be human if it wasn’t.

Love the people in your life and believe in them. I am blessed to have these women in my life. And I intend to have both of them around for so many years yet to come.

Posted in breast cancer | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

#bullsh😡t , penn medicine

Let's recap: I have had three surgeries (breast cancer, full hysterectomy, knee surgery) and quite a few procedures over the past six years. I have also had radiation, a colonoscopy, an endoscopy, the flu, a sprained ankle, and so on and so forth. And ALL of the other doctors appointments that go with all of these things.

Twice surgeries or related to surgeries have conflicted with my Penn Medicine dermatology appointment. One time I completely forgot an appointment in the sea of medical appointments I have had the past few years. I felt awful. I had never done that before.

Most recently, this spring I had knee surgery. I could not drive for a couple of months BEFORE the surgery (driving leg was injured) , and could not drive for quite a while after surgery…and I am still doing rehab on my leg. After my surgery, but before I could drive, I had to cancel my at that point twice canceled dermatology appointment with Dr. Rudolf Roth, whom I really like and have worked well with.

When I canceled my dermatologist appointment, I actually spoke with someone in the dermatology office at Penn Medicine in Radnor. I explained that I literally could not drive and was so sorry to cancel an appointment. The woman on the phone said it was no problem, to just reschedule when I could. I asked at the time if it was a problem to reschedule in the summer, and was told that was fine.

I have this weird thing on my hand, and having had radiation treatment I am paranoid about my skin. So I went to mypennmedicine, the website Penn Medicine wants you to use…and let us not forget that their horrific phone system makes it almost impossible to speak to an actual human being most of the time. I went to my drop down menu to make an appointment and chose my dermatologist, Dr. Rudolf Roth, and completed the form to get an appointment.

I got a reply back that I did not see until about an hour ago:

What the hell???? This is Penn Medicine patient services? So I sent a reply back and yes I was damn snippy. I own it. But Geez Louise, why does someone tell me it's OK, just connect when I want to reschedule and this is the fine how-Dee-do? Are there zero patient notes as to WHY I missed the appointment that put me over the edge with the "patient services associate"????

So I went back to the menu of contact your doctors or whatever the hell they call it, and pull down my list of doctors, and guess what? They removed my dermatologist as one of my doctors.

Sorry not sorry but that is total bullshit. And I am calling bullshit on Penn Medicine. I have played by the rules, jumped through the veritable hoops of their layers of systems. And my goodness haven't I paid them enough co-pays over the years?

So yeah, I am venting via my blog. No one told me when I had to cancel my appointment earlier this year that I would no longer be a patient. I was told to reschedule.

This is crap. When Penn Medicine has gotten so big that patients aren't people, just bodies, it's a problem.

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cancer spam

I get dozens of spam comments a week.  I find cancer-related spam especially egregious. Today we have these people.  An organization no one has ever heard of, trying to use this blog to advertise their wares.

Here’s the 411: if this is how they try to get the word out, save your money, spamming is so totally bogus.

The nice spammer was kind enough to leave all her information.  Feel free to send HER spammy emails!

Posted in breast cancer, fake charity | Tagged , | 1 Comment

last radiation bill

All I have done for the last 6 years is pay off my breast cancer treatment bills from 2011.

Every month, without fail.

I did my radiation at Lankenau Hospital in suburban Philadelphia, PA.  I did my radiation there because at the time my own hospital system (Penn) did not have a suburban radiation spot, and I wanted Dr. Marisa Weiss ( to be my radiation oncologist.

As I said in 2014 when they tried to sell off my remaining radiation bill to a bill collector, in spite of the payment arrangements we had made after they screwed up the first time (2012), if I had to do it all over again, as much as I love Dr. Marisa Weiss I would have chosen to go elsewhere because of their sucky business practices when it comes to patient billing.

To recap the past:

When I began as a patient 6 years ago (2011)  I filled out reams of paperwork. Enough to have felled a small forest. And I kept asking for bills as week after week of radiation treatment went by. I was told not to worry I would get billed. Only I never got any bills. But I kept asking and they kept giving me the same answer.

More than a year later (of essentially asking for bills almost monthly) I find out because of my then postman that Lankenau/Main Line Health  were mailing invoices to my dead father’s FORMER address. A property my parents had not owned in YEARS AND YEARS at that point, and I might add an address I never provided to them EVER because I wasn’t a patient  before. I always use Penn Medicine.

My postman only saw the bill because he had been asked to cover that delivery route one random day.  I still remember when he knocked on my door the next day and handed me this bill with a nasty letter from Main Line Health – you know like it was my fault they chose an address that wasn’t mine and somehow were unable to return a phone call or call me at all over the bill?

So I called and I went through rigmarole and finally ended up on a payment plan. I was paying Lankenau monthly until April 25, 2014 when my invoices stopped coming.

I made two attempts by telephone to get my invoices straightened out at that point, but stopped because I was recovering from another surgery.

During my recovery from a more major surgery (full hysterectomy ) a bill collector contacted me. Main Line Health decided to sell my remaining bill off for collection even though I was paying monthly and had reached out to say “where are my monthly invoices?”

Since that point in 2014,  I have continued to pay my bill monthly.  And this morning, ironically, I had mailed my final payment, because the balance had gotten small enough (finally) to manage a pay off.

I was so psyched, until I got home…when I got home there was an impersonal dear occupant letter from Main Line Health billing that was unsigned and not personalized in any way (not even the date it was sent) demanding I fill out more paperwork. On the same bill I have been paying religiously for now so many freaking years.

They were getting ready to change the game again.   What if I had not saved up to pay off the balance?  I would have been back in the fray with Main Line Health billing again. Over the same god damned bill. If I had shirked my responsibilities, I would say they had a right.  But I didn’t shirk anything.

This is what gets to me about healthcare.  You pay and pay and pay and you are always at the mercy of either health insurance companies, stupid politicians whose benefits WE pay for as taxpayers, or inept hospital system billing offices. And trust me, none of those aforementioned parties give a rat’s fanny about the stress that causes patients and families.  Yet another reason why I say I would not wish cancer or cancer treatment on my worst enemy.

But today I finally freed myself from the shackles of Main Line Health debt. Breast cancer is so damn expensive.   God bless my doctors and nurses.  Can’t say I feel the same for the billing departments.



Posted in breast cancer, health insurance | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

if goop = gwyneth paltrow does goop = b.s. ?


  1. sloppy or sticky semifluid matter, typically something unpleasant.
    • mawkish sentiment.


Gwyneth Paltrow.  Actress and self imagined health and lifestyle guru.  Have never been a fan as she just gives off the vibes in every interview I have seen of a self-absorbed narcissist.   Apple doesn’t fall far from the self-absorbed narcissist tree as her mother is actress Blythe Danner.

So Gwyneth has this Goop thing going on.  I posted the definition of “goop” above.  Perhaps oddly appropriate?

Anyway Goop is somewhat pretentious.  BS articles, and lots of overpriced crap no one needs to buy except Gwyneth says so. She even has a pop up market in the Hamptons (Amagansett).

Anyway, one of the things she like to opine on is how women REALLY get breast cancer, because she is an expert you know.  According Gwynnie, bras. (Do you feel my eyes rolling?)

Just for the record, this myth was debunked as far back as 2014 .

But no….Gwyneth knows all.

Here is where a very cool doctor took her on in 2015

Hey Gwyneth Paltrow, a GYN says stop scaring women about bras and breast cancer

Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP is the latest site to stoke false fears about bras and breast cancer (scaremongering being a nice touch for breast cancer awareness month – wraps up the whole October fright fest thing with a pink bow). The post is written by Dr. Habib Sadeghi, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and apparently the person who brought us the term conscious uncoupling….

There is no science to back up a bra and breast cancer connection, never mind that the mechanism is biologically implausible. The myth has been debunked so many times I have lost track, but if you want more data read Dr. David Gorski, a cancer surgeon (so someone who knows a lot more about breast cancer than Sadeghi, Singer, or Schacter). He has debunked the myth several times. There is also no data to suggest carrying your cell phone in your bra can cause cancer. By the way, Sadeghi doesn’t think you should even have WiFi in your house.

It’s so ludicrous that it should be funny, except some women will read this and be scared.

Ladies, wear your bra or don’t. Your choice. Heck, wear it to bed if it’s comfortable. It’s all good. If it’s digging in get a fitting from an expert, not because it could be building up toxins but because everyone should know the joy of a well-fitted bra.


This author wrote another post which had me in stitches – Dear Gwyneth Paltrow we’re not f**king with you we’re correcting you, XOXO Science

Read it.

I am not a fan of quackery.  I am not a fan of idiots who opine on a disease they have never had, nor know anything substantive about.  It is offensive.

So here’s my note to GP of GOOPedty GOOPpoop:

Dear Gwyneth Paltrow,

Hi.  Might I suggest you stick to selling overpriced whatever on your website and leave things like cancer to the actual educated experts?  I can assure you that bras and martians did not cause my breast cancer.

You are sooo extremely busy and important that I will just get right to it:  in a nutshell, reading your articles like the breast cancer caused by bras makes my head hurt.

Enjoy being a self-impressed narcissistic nutjob and stay out of my breast health. 


A breast cancer survivor.

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the waiting is the hardest part

Here I sit waiting for my oncologist. Six years have passed and the waiting is still the hardest part. This is the first post I have ever done from the oncologist’s office.

I hear the footsteps to and fro outside the exam room, waiting. It’s hard. Everything leading up to this is hard.

Breast cancer made me face my own mortality six years ago.  I did not appreciate that. But I do appreciate the good that has come out of my life on this second chapter.

I have lost other friends to other cancers as well as breast cancer since I began this journey. I have friends who live with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer– they are my heroes.

I would never wish cancer treatment on anyone…ever.

I still say breast cancer in a sense freed me. Post breast cancer I have the life I always wanted, and the one thing about truly being a survivor is you will fight to keep your life.

I have been blessed, and yes it sometimes is a bumpy road and a lot of waiting is involved.  Patience is still not my finest quality, but six years post breast cancer I am a hell of a lot more humble as breast cancer has a habit of stripping away a lot of the minutiae in life that is really not so important.

My oncologist just came in. And then a nurse called him away. I don’t mind. There is another patient with a more immediate need. That is the nature of this bitch of a disease. Back later.

Ok so I  just came out. My sweet man tells me a young cancer patient went into convulsions in the waiting room and had to be rushed to the hospital. But for the grace of God go all of us. 

So it’s official. I made it six more months to officially six years with NED as my friend.

No Evidence of Disease.

Dear God, I am so grateful.

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