Lung Cancer - The Catastrophic Event
According to the CDC, from 1999 to 2017 (18 YEARS), almost 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to opioid prescriptions. This is the epidemic we are facing in America people. Not the fact that 154,050 die from lung cancer EACH YEAR, accounting for 25% of all cancer deaths. The mainstream media continues to avoid this topic. My question is why? Why would an epidemic that kills 12,111 people per year take precedence over 154,050 per year?
The smoking argument
Some use the argument, "Well, you smoked, you deserved it". To these people, I say NO ONE deserves cancer regardless of smoking status. Additionally, if that is your argument, wouldn't it be the same for the addict that overdoses? No one wants this opioid crisis to continue, but it's affecting cancer patients and the chronically ill.
The opioid epidemic affects cancer patients
I am not allowed to take NSAIDS due to my targeted therapy. Since I am on blood thinners, I'm not allowed to take aspirin. This leaves me to either suffer, over everything painful I experience, from headaches to back pain. When I see a doctor because of these ailments, I'm treated like a narcotic seeker. I'm not seeking narcotics, it's basically the only relief I am able to get.
So, I am part of the CATASTROPHIC EVENT of lung cancer. Not only do I have to suffer from the stigma associated with it, I now get to suffer because I can't get anything for pain. Over the counter medications are a no go for me. Doctors are afraid to write prescriptions for narcotics, even for me. I can't predict when a migraine will come and I need some pain relief. So, I call my doctor, wait 4 days for an appointment, and I'm given 21 pills. I hoard these pills.
Having the shame of the stigma and a drug seeker are too much to handle. I've had radiation to my lung, which causes it to become inflamed during certain weather conditions. I can't predict these. So, I have no other choice but to add another doctor and copay to my ever-growing list of expenses and doctors.
Turning to palliative care
I've decided to make an appointment with Palliative Care. Although cancer patients are exempt from this law, general physicians are still afraid to dispense these much needed pain relievers. The palliative care experience will be new to me. I wanted my bottle of ibuprofen in the cabinet for a headache. But, that is long in the past and I am no longer able to enjoy the simplicity of life. It drives me crazy.
So, while the country panics and continues to regulate over this "EPIDEMIC", the cancer patients and chronically ill are going to continue to suffer. Not in whole because of our disease, but because we can't get the medications to alleviate and improve our quality of life without running in circles. We also feel ashamed because a lot of doctors just look at us like we are just looking to score some quality drugs.
The time for change is now
I don't understand why this epidemic takes precedence over the people with cancer and chronic illness. Like I said in the beginning, 12,111 people die per year from opioid use. Whereas lung cancer alone will kill approximately 154,050 a year. I'm not a math genius but look at the figures. Because of the people that get addicted, there are us who are suffering and our quality of life is declining. If we have terminal cancer or even a chronic illness, our last concern is going to be an opioid overdose. We are trying to survive treatments. We need more funding from the government for that instead of the absurdly strict opioid laws that DO affect cancer patients, regardless of what the law says.
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