Archive for September, 2016

Survivor Spotlight: Lynne Weber

Posted By on September 16th, 2016 at 8:30 am | 0 comments.

lynne-weber-for-plLynne Weber, Cumberland County

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer one month before I was. Other than that, we had no family history. I felt like I was sucker-punching my Mom and my Dad, knocking the wind out of them so soon after my sister’s news. Mine was found through a routine screening mammogram in January 2014. Initially I had a lumpectomy but since it had spread to the lymph nodes, rather than stage 1 it was stage 3. I had chemo then a double mastectomy, radiation, and reconstruction.

Throughout treatment I attended a support group and in addition to that had incredible support from friends and family. My mother came out for my surgery, friends came to be with me, and the people at HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College) were flexible and accommodating for my schedule. And once we figured out what I could eat during chemo, my significant other John made sure we always had those foods ready. That was mostly what I called the “white diet,” … mashed potatoes and mild things.

I love to read and to garden and kept that up during treatment. Now that I’m feeling better I like to travel. This summer I went to Romania with a group from HACC. A colleague teaches a course looking at child development in Romania and the students learn about our system compared to theirs. I was able to join them as the second faculty member. It was really powerful for the students, and for me. I was glad to be healthy enough to go.

One interesting thing is that when all my hair fell out, I didn’t really mind being bald. I had wigs and hats and everything but I actually thought being bald was kind of cool. Usually a wore a hat outside because I didn’t want my head to be sunburned but I didn’t feel like I always needed to be wearing a perfect wig. I wasn’t prepared for losing my eyebrows though!

My advice to other women is this: The doctors are doing their job and you have to do yours as a patient. Eat healthy and exercise even if you don’t want to. I made sure I walked and even ran a little bit. Some research has come out indicating that the chemo might even work better if you’re exercising. Going through breast cancer treatment taught me that I’m stronger than I knew I was. When you’re looking at surgery, radiation, more surgery, you can think there’s no way I can go through all that. Now it seems like a long time ago. I’ve learned to value my time and how I spend it.

Cutting Out Chemo? Genetic Test Could Reduce Need for Chemotherapy Among Some Breast Cancer Patients

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:35 am | 0 comments.

Cutting chemo for PLResearchers say they have found a gene that could cut chemo for some breast cancer patients. According to the European study, published in New England Journal of Medicine, a test called MammaPrint that examines 70 genes can determine whether a patient is high or low risk for recurrence. Researchers studied a group of 1,500 women with breast cancer that had not spread to the lymph nodes.  One group of women considered high risk based on the genetic testing received chemo. The other group, deemed low risk, did not. After 5 years, scientists say survival rates for the two groups were similar. The women who did not receive chemo had a 95 percent survival rate.

According to the findings, nearly half of women with breast cancer who are classified as high risk based on clinical factors may not need chemo. Researchers say, however, the choice to include chemotherapy as part of a treatment regimen remains an individualized decision between doctors and patients. To read more on this study, click here.

In Depth: PA’s Oral Parity Law for Cancer Treatment

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:31 am | 0 comments.

oral parity law for PL with logo 2Guest author: Kim Kockler, Independence Blue Cross

On July 8, 2016, House Bill 60 was signed into law by Governor Wolf as Act 73.  The legislation requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for oral chemotherapy medications or impose cost sharing on a no less favorable basis than intravenous (IV) or injected chemotherapy medications for cancer patients. The new law is intended to establish a level of parity for patients regardless of the type of cancer chemotherapy medication they are being prescribed – oral medication or injected medication. It is important for consumers to understand the practical implications of the new law. The following are some points to keep in mind:

•    The legislation applies only if a health insurance policy already includes coverage for IV or injected chemotherapy medications that are FDA-approved.

•    Under the law, insurers are prohibited from increasing cost sharing for chemotherapy medications for the purpose of avoiding complying with the law. Cost sharing examples include a co-payment, coinsurance or other out-of-pocket expense a consumer may have as required under their health insurance policy.

•    Oral chemotherapy medications may be subject to a health insurance plan’s prior authorization requirements. This means that the health insurance plan may require the provider who is treating the patient to get prior approval from the health insurance company before medication is dispensed to the patient. The law allows the health insurance company to consider both the medical necessity and cost of the oral chemotherapy medication in comparison to IV or injected chemotherapy medication when making a prior authorization determination.

•    The specific number and type of oral chemotherapy medications that are covered may vary by insurer and type of health plan.

It is also important to note which types of health insurance plans fall under the new law and the effective date. Act 73 applies to health insurance plans purchased by individuals as well as fully-insured small and large group plans offered by employers. The Act does not apply to self-funded plans. For those with insurance provided by their employer, it is best to check with the employer to inquire if the health insurance plan is self-funded.

The new law is effective for plans issued or renewed on or after January 8, 2017 for fully-insured large group health plans.  For individual and small group plans, Act 73 is effective on or after January 1, 2018.
It is recommended that consumers check with their health insurance company to determine specifically how the new law applies to their particular coverage.