In December of 2006, we sat in the waiting room at Mercy Oncology Clinic. I’ll never forget that day. I was wondering what we were doing there. It was like walking through a surreal dream at the time. It was then that Harley was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or, CLL. After years of chemo treatments and life on a roller coaster his oncologist recommended a bone marrow transplant. He was referred to MD Anderson in Houston for a consultation. The doctors there are proceeding with transplant plans.
As preparations continue, the costs of flights and housing take their toll. We will make several trips to Houston in preparation for the transplant. At transplant time, there will be a one week stay in the hospital before hand and three weeks of near isolation after the transplant. This is followed by at least two months of living in Houston within thirty minutes of the hospital, a total of at least 100 days. I am to be his caregiver and must be with him 24/7 after the release from the hospital until we can come home. This is followed by several return trips to MD Anderson over the next twelve months or so.
Even though the majority of the medical costs are covered by insurance, the out of pocket expenses for the whole process can be staggering since we live on a fixed income. Harley will not be able to teach at National Park Community College until well after the transplant, so even that source of income will cease. While we are in Houston, we still must pay the bills back home. It is hard for us to even estimate our expenses; the task is filled with unknowns.