This post is #34 in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.
March 19, 2008
On the day Hannah was admitted to Arkansas Children's Hospital in preparation for her brain surgery, I was called down to the financial office of the hospital. On the way down the elevator, I remember feeling a little bemused that they weren't wasting any time making sure we would be paying our bill.
I walked into the office, mentally preparing myself to fill out the typical insurance paperwork, and hoping I had all the proper documentation. I hadn't been thinking very clearly when we'd left home that morning ... still reeling from all that had taken place in the last 24 hours.
As I sat down, the lady introduced herself and confirmed that I was there because our daughter had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Yes, that was right. She then began to tell me about a type of insurance supplement called TEFRA, for which she believed we would qualify. I was somewhat familiar with TEFRA through my work as a speech pathologist, and told her I didn't think we would qualify. She assured me that qualification was not based on income, but on the child's needs. There would be a monthly premium which was determined by the parents' income, but that TEFRA was available for any child who had ongoing medical needs or disabilities. She explained that after brain surgery, Hannah might need physical, occupational, or speech therapy to get her back on track ... "You just never know what her needs might be," she said. She explained that if approved, the TEFRA would cover all of our co-pays and deductibles left from our primary insurance.
I remember thinking we were really not going to need this program. Hannah was going to be fine. Yes, she might need a little therapy, but I was a speech pathologist myself, and I could help her if she needed it. But the lady was pretty insistent, saying it would only take a few minutes to apply, and I figured I might as well humor her and fill out the paperwork.
She then handed me a 16-page application to complete. I almost handed it right back to her ... I was anxious to be done with all this paperwork stuff and get back to Hannah! With a sigh, I settled into the uncomfortable chair and got to work.
It actually didn't take me long at all to complete the application. Very few of the questions actually seemed to apply to our situation. "How long has your child been ill?" Ummm, about a week. "How has your child's illness affected his/her ability to care for him/herself?" Well, it hasn't. "What activities is your child no longer able to participate in because of this illness?" Uhhh, none. "What life skills has your child lost due to this illness?" Nada.
I finished it up and handed it back to the friendly lady at the desk. Well, that was a waste of time. There was no way we were going to get approved with those kind of answers! I thanked her and headed back up to where Brad and Hannah were.
I didn't know then that the doctors at Children's add their own information to the TEFRA application. When our paperwork was submitted with the Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme diagnosis added to it, we were approved for a full year of coverage.
And what a blessing that program turned out to be! The benefits were retroactive, so it covered the co-pay for the initial MRI Hannah had, as well as every co-pay and deductible throughout the year of her cancer battle.
Almost exactly one year later, I found myself filling out the TEFRA renewal application while Hannah was in hospice care. We knew that unless God provided a miraculous healing, Hannah would be leaving us soon, but we didn't know how long it might be, and we wanted to be sure we had coverage.
What a contrast in answers this time! "How long has your child been ill?" One year. "How has your child's illness affected his/her ability to care for him/herself? She can now do nothing for herself. "What activities is your child no longer able to participate in because of this illness?" There are no activities in which she can participate. "What life skills has your child lost due to this illness?" Every. Single. One.
With a heavy heart, I put the application in an envelope along with a check for the premium, and placed it in the hospice center's outgoing mail box.
About four hours later, Hannah left us for Heaven. All those skills she had lost, all those activities she could no longer do ... None of that mattered anymore! Freed from her cancer-riddled body, she was completely healed and restored. And even in our great pain and loss, we rejoiced for her.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1