I just returned from an awesome trip to Goodyear, Arizona where I was given the royal tour of the Cancer Treatment Center of America facility. It was a free trip. Not that I’ll go just anywhere if it’s free (I’m lying. I will) I’m telling you because one of the other bloggers who visited is a professional freelance writer who had concerns about disclosures regarding her reporting. That sounded pretty hotshot to me, so I wanted to grab a piece of that action, hopefully making me more professional! So…I’m disclosing…and it feels so good.
The occasion was their first Bloggers Summit. Just the idea of a Bloggers “Anything” makes me feel a little more legit now that I’m an unemployed slug. Besides, who could resist a free trip to a cancer hospital, right? Seriously, I already knew that CTCA is like a spa/hotel…with massage, unbelievably good food, beautiful decor and blah, blah, blah. (If you want more details, see my CTCA post from January which documented Steven’s personal experience in the Tulsa facility.)
Here’s my take away. If you have cancer (or are thinking about getting it) you absolutely HAVE to check this place out. After our trip to Tulsa in December, I knew that the overall treatment at CTCA was amazing. This time, I didn’t have a pesky cancer patient trailing along to slow me down. I was able to really delve into the inner workings of the organization and I’ve decided that this is the first place that I’ve ever seen that seems too good to be true, but IS TRUE! And let me also disclose at this time that I did not drink any Kool-Aid while I was there; nor did I shave my head and start selling books at the airport! I just couldn’t find anything wrong with the place…and God knows, and I’m sure you do too, by now, I live for finding fault!Before this starts sounding like a commercial, I’m going to admit why I am relieved that we discovered CTCA. I feel like it’s a great backup plan. If Steven’s cancer ever decides to boldly act up again, we know where to go. I cannot explain to a non-cancer family what it is like to know you have a safety net. There has been a load lifted off our shoulders since we went to Tulsa, and I want all cancer families to know about it and to investigate it! It has changed my life and allowed my butt to stop puckering for the first time in 8 years! (Seriously, sometimes my butt used to pucker so hard I’d get stuck to my chair and needed a crow bar to pry myself off!) CTCA is in the process of finishing up a new facility in the Atlanta area, so if we ever have to check in, we can stay in our own time zone. Plus, each facility gets nicer and nicer. By the time Atlanta is opened, I’m hoping they’ll have added a nightclub and swimming pool!
One of the things I love most about cancer (can you believe I just said that?)…is that I always learn something. Every time we paddle the rapids of treatment, we end up in the calm waters of understanding. (OMG!!! That is so profound and deep, don’t you think? Let’s just stop a minute and reflect on the brilliance of being me…Sometimes I feel like Plato with boobs!) Cancer is that really mean teacher you had in elementary school…the one who used to scare you so much that you learned your lessons. Luckily, this trip was about the learning without the mean teacher. And the stuff that I learned isn’t about sickness and death. It’s about living and life.We were lucky to have a panel of all the Grand Poobahs of all the departments meet with us to give us their respective raps. One of the most unifying things I noticed is that they all possessed the same kind of calm, peaceful demeanor that I always wish I could have. But they work with cancer every day! How can that be? I get my panties in a wad when my lunch order gets messed up. Even that staff surgeon was chatty and warm…a surgeon. Usually those Type A personality docs are wound tighter than an eight day clock!
I think I was able to get a glimpse into the hearts of these healthcare professionals and this is what I got:
- 1. Helping people makes YOU feel good by making THEM feel good
- 2. Focus on what YOU do best, and the rest will fall into place.
Yeah…I know…that’s it. That’s my big discovery. It’s basic. It’s what our parents tried to teach us. It’s kindergarten class theory. So why don’t we all live like this? Maybe because we’re idiots.It’s hard to understand how CTCA can afford the beautiful building, the nutritionists, holistic healers, massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc. Most of those services aren’t ever included in health care or insurance. And for the most part, they just give it away. They look at it all as a necessity to make the patient feel better. So I asked the head oncologist how they were able to afford their “Mother’s Care” model. (The idea is to treat the patients AS IF they were your mother.) His response was amazing. He said, “We don’t think about that.”
CTCA has a staff of insurance experts who deal with the money. It must be an amazing staff wearing super hero underwear, because the doctors don’t base any of their decisions or treatment plans on insurance. Once you’re in, you’re in. They care for you. The doctors give you lots of medical options, the rest of the staff works to massage your muscles, accu-punct your body, vitamin up your innards, gourmet smoothie your taste buds and shrink your messed up mind. And everybody is happy, the patients, the staff and even the volunteers.So there you are. It’s like that baseball movie. “If you build it, they will come.” Just do what you do and the rest will fall into place. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to learn that lesson right now. I’m trying to live in the moment and not freak out about being out of work…and this experience couldn’t have come at a more perfect or necessary time. So I’m writing this. And I feel good, because I just know I’m helping someone. I’m writing because it’s what I do best…and the rest will just fall into place!
THANK YOU CTCA FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO VISIT.