A Good Friend Badly Needs Help
Mon., Mar. 24. 2008 12:36am EDT
Anne Edwards, whom we affectionately refer to as "Anne from Alabama," is a good friend of ours who's run the merchandise table for us many times in several southern states. Anne and her family have faced some incredible challenges (brain cancer, severe autism, and more) over the years, and she has always impressed us with her positive attitude and sense of humor.
Anne is not a complaining person, but she is facing yet another huge obstacle with her son, Sean, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps until being discharged for medical reasons. Please read this update from her and pray for her family:
I am writing to fill you in on what's been happening with my son, Sean, perhaps you can help us by passing the info on to media or political or medical personnel. If you would like to contact Anne yourself, her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean asked his general doctor at the VA hospital about the "bump" on his forehead, just as he's asked before of other military doctors. Unlike those other doctors, his VA doctor examined him and was concerned. She sent him for a CT scan the end of January; during the scan they came in to ask Sean about the "mass". He started to tell them how it's been there and no one's been interested. They interrupted him to say,"No, not the one on the left, the one on the right."
They then told him there was a mass inside his brain and that he needed an MRI. The MRI was done around February 4. He was then given an appointment at the VA in Birmingham to see a neurologist. Sean's neurological exam was noteworthy in that he exhibited abnormalities -- reduced sensation on the left side of the body, etc. The young neurologist explained that it could be several things, but was most probably a brain tumor. At that point we told the doctor about Sean's father's brain tumor- an oligodendroglioma of the right temporal lobe which was surgically removed in 1993. Sean's tumor is in the right frontal lobe.
Sean had been experiencing symptoms since last summer, only we were not aware of that. He has been having episodes of extreme deja vu, confusion, lost time, extreme mood swings, and personality changes. He was started on an anticonvulsive that day. The neurologist tried to reach a neuro-oncologist at UAB by phone and email that day to no avail. We were assured we would hear back. Sean did hear back -- a phone call informing him he'd be seen at the Kirklin Clinic at UAB April 23rd! A wait of almost 3 months.
We took Sean to UAB's emergency room March 10th for extreme headache with nausea. I told Sean not to tell them about the VA or the diagnosis in hopes that he would become an UAB patient as an uninsured patient in need of care. From the first minute we arrived, everyone was asking Sean about the "bump" on his head. We were taken back to triage very quickly and saw an ER doctor shortly. A CT scan was ordered, an IV line was run, and they began giving him saline. Blood and urine were taken for tests.
As soon as the scan came back, I could tell from the change in pace in the ER. The ER doctor came in to break the news to us about the "anomaly" found in his brain. We listened, asked a few questions, and she left to phone neurology, neuro-oncology, and neurosurgery. We were so excited and hopeful -- right up until the VA neurologist walked in. It was explained to us how we would have to wait for a VA consult before receiving further care. We were assured by the VA neurologist that everything possible was being done.
In the meantime I have e-mailed a neuro-oncologist and a neurologist at UAB in hopes that we could get Sean seen sooner, but no luck so far.
Because I believe that the stumbling block is the VA and because I am very concerned about Sean and his prognosis I have begun contacting others looking for whatever help I can find.
Rest assured Sean is on lots of prayer lists but I do believe we are not supposed to sit by idly. None of the statistics I am reading on UAB's or Mayo Clinic's or National Institute of Health are comforting me, they are making me feel that David (Sean's dad is one very lucky survivor of brain cancer). I am concerned that:
a) there may be cancer elsewhere that has metastasized to the brain
b) the damage to brain tissue is irreversible
c) strong family history of cancer- father with oligodendroglioma and melanoma, aunt with bone cancer metastasized to brain, aunt with melanoma, two grandparents with cancer (one with head and neck cancer)
d) Sean will run out of time before he is even treated.
My suggestions are: contact your political reps and any media reps you know and ask why is a disabled Marine having to sit around and wait when a person off the street without insurance would have been seen (as shown by our visit to UAB's ER) and always PRAY.