Posts Tagged ‘Fertility’

Twins

Hi Folks. It has been a long time since I’ve updated you here. Big positive news on my end. My wife and I went through fertility treatment i.e., in vitro fertilization (IVF) over the last few months, and now have twins on the way! If you’re interested in learning more about the IVF process, take a look at Jess’ blog at: http://jessicastetson.blogspot.com

UltrasoundJack and Bruno

In the clear

I had another 3-month checkup at Dana-Farber on Monday. My CT scan and blood work came back normal. My oncologist believes that I’m in the clear now, meaning a recurrence is unlikely. My appointment frequency has been extended from quarterly to biannually, with the next one in December.

We spoke briefly about my Severe Oligospermia diagnosis. The oncologist believes that my body could naturally overcome it, but I shouldn’t wait and hope for that–in vitro is the starting point when ready for family planning.

Severe Oligospermia

I received news from my primary care physician regarding my fertility lab results. Not good, but somewhat expected. I’ve got severe oligospermia, which means having kids the good old-fashioned way isn’t going to happen. The normal counts are 20 million per milliliter. I’m at 700,000 per milliliter. Prior to chemo, the sperm bank stated that my counts were low, but I can’t recall what the numbers were. The good news is that there still is an option available, it is called Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). That means a test-tube baby (e.g., one sperm, one egg, fertilized outside the womb). Jess and I are going to find out more information about this. I imagine our insurance company will have an elaborate vetting process for such an expensive procedure.

Checkup

I had my 6-month checkup at Dana-Farber last Friday. The good news is that my CT Scan and blood work came back cancer-free. Unfortunately, my appointment schedule was switched back to every 3 months. The original switch to 6 months was a miscommunication between the staff- I need to come in every 3 for the next couple of years.

Part of my visit included a discussion about side effects. In the last few months, I have perceived pain similar to what it was like prior to my orchiectomy. This is “phantom” pain and quite common according to my nurse practitioner. I also brought up fertility. There is a high likelihood that I’m now infertile. My insurance company will need it documented before they’ll cover any expenses related to treatment.

Big thank you to WBZ-TV

On Monday, when I found out that Blue Cross Blue Shield wasn’t going to help me or any other chemotherapy patient to preserve fertility, I was pretty upset.  Enough so, that I contacted my local news media outlets for help.

Joe Shortsleeve, of WBZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Boston, read my story and called to hear me out.  After agreeing to send a news crew for a televised interview at Dana-Farber tomorrow, Joe placed a call into Blue Cross Blue Shield to get an official comment.

The response was “Tell us who the patient is, and if we cover his expenses, ask him if he will drop the story”.

My response (in the 2nd call with Joe) “You can tell them who I am, but I’d rather run the story- this effects every chemo patient, and I’ve already accepted that I have to pay for my sperm banking”.

Within 30 minutes, I received a phone call from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  The representative stated “Good news, we just had a meeting.  As of October 1, 2009, all Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts members who undergo a treatment that could cause infertility, will be covered for fertility treatments.  Men will be allowed to bank sperm and women will be allowed to bank eggs for two years for a future pregnancy.  We are also going to pay for your sperm banking costs that you have already incurred.”

On that note, it is time for bed- I need to wake up at 4 AM tomorrow for my first chemo treatment.

Blue Cross Blue Shield reviewing fertility policy

My grievance, although initially denied, has been escalated to some sort of medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield.  I’ve accepted the fact that they won’t reimburse me according to their current policy.  That being said, I intend on raising some public awareness about this issue, as it is relevant to every young person going through chemotherapy.

On a positive note, Dana-Farber provides free snacks and lunch to chemo patients.  I’m nervous, and strangely excited to get my treatment started.  I’ll have internet access in the infusion room, thus my plan is to continue to work for my company, but as a remote employee.

Blue Cross Blue Shield won’t pay for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to preserve the ability to have children

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has informed me that sperm banking is not considered a “medical necessity” for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment according to their existing policy. Although Blue Cross recognizes that chemotherapy has a high risk of causing infertility, sperm banking is only covered for couples who are documented as already, but unsuccessfully attempting to have children naturally.

Patients that simply want to preserve the ability to bear children at a later point in life are not covered.

My sperm bank results came back. Not surprisingly, I have an extremely low sperm count. They typically would have a patient come back for multiple visits just as a precaution, but due to the cost, I’ll refrain. My first visit alone now has me responsible for a 10 year contract at roughly $4,700.

I had a conversation with staff from the Lance Armstrong foundation today. This turns out to be an all-too-common occurrence for cancer patients undergoing chemo. Most HMOs have loop holes that keep them from being financially responsbile for cancer patient fertilty.