The former Real Housewives of New Jersey star had to fight for the best care possible
Amber Marchese, star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, is blogging about her second battle with cancer for PEOPLE. After surviving breast cancer in 2009, she discovered a lump, which turned out to be cancerous, in her right breast in April. Marchese will share updates on her treatment and how she is coping with this second round of the deadly disease with prayer, a positive outlook and the help of her family.
Happy and blessed New Year to all! I am putting good vibes our into the Universe that this year is going to be an amazing year! I just have a really good feeling about this. Perhaps it is because I received the most amazing news just a day before Christmas. 2015 was quite a paradoxical year for me. It was not a total annihilation like 2009 was for our family, but it was not the best either. On the one hand, I was given the worst news that I could imagine in the spring, or was it? I was able to find a lump in its early stages, again, so I can quickly remove it, begin treatment and tweak my diet and lifestyle even more for optimal health. So in essence, it was the worst and best year all at the same time. Paradoxical.
Then, the day before my seventh treatment of Herceptin and Perjeta, I am told that my medical insurance company, AmeriHealth, made the decision for me that I am no longer in need of cancer medicine! It was like I had been punched in the gut again. This created so much anxiety and stress in my life. Just like that! Some random doctor that does not know me made a life-threatening decision for me, overruling my oncologist of eight years! I tried to look at the positive side to it. This insurance doctor must think that my prognosis looks so good that he does not think further treatment is necessary.
However, the truth and the gravity of the situation always prevailed. This doctor could potentially have made a decision that could cost me my life. Contrary to what you all saw on Real Housewives of New Jersey, I don’t cry, I actually try to “let it all out ” as others graciously advise me, but the tears never come. Instead, I do what I do best: trust God, pray and fight like hell. I immediately began working with Dr. Nissenblatt, who was already way ahead of me with phonecalls and formal letters to this doctor at Amerihealth.
The first week goes by and nothing. I have officially missed my seventh treatment. Second goes went by, then the third. No reply from the insurance company. Thank God the hustle and bustle of leaving RHONJ and Thanksgiving kept my mind busy. Now, I am six weeks out and have missed two treatments, and I have to tell you, I had a lump in my throat most of the time, although, I kept calm and remained very trusting in God’s plan, very trusting.
Then, a little Christmas miracle happened. I get an email on Christmas Eve, which fit the motif of how this whole experience has been laid out according to Catholic Holidays. God is speaking so clear me to. Dr. Nissenblatt emails me to let me know that the insurance company approved an additional year of treatment and I can begin right away! Jim and I were so happy and now could really sleep better! We were so thankful for such an amazing oncologist that went to bat for me full force.
The take-home message from this entire experience is to make sure that you hire a doctor that has your 150 percent best interest in mind and when chips are down, will fight for you all the way. If I had a doctor that just accepted this, I would be without this life-saving treatment. Who knows what my life would like in a year from now? Thank you Dr. Nissenblatt, thank you God, and thank you, Amerihealth for listening to my personal doctor on matters of my health.
I feel 2016 is year to renew and to evolve into a better person ready to take on the next 40 years of my life. 2015 was all about purging from my life that was unhealthy and unwanted. Some were voluntary, other events, well, let’s just say I believe God needs to wake me up sometimes with a powerful jolt. I have made some changes to go along with this renewal of life. I kicked alcohol to the curb (being drunk is never cute, but it certainly is pathetic when an almost 40-year-old is intoxicated). I vowed to eat even less meat (and when I do, it comes from a local farmer who treats the animals humanely) and promised to be more consciences of not wearing designer labels that hurt animals. I also vowed to pray more and serve others more. This is a lot to take on, but I am ready for it. With three weeks into the New Year, I am rock solid with my goals even drinking sparkling juice on New Years Eve!
As always, thank you all for following my story on People.com. I am so blessed and fortunate to have all of you supporting me in my journey!
Advice No. 1 – Make a careful decision on who you want to hire as your medical doctor. You are hiring them and paying them a lot of money. They should be working for your complete optimal health. They should want to fight for you and support your needs above all.
Advice No. 2 – Do not let your insurance company make hard decisions about your health. Fight as hard as you can. It will take more than one attempt and an army behind you, but you will not win the fight if you don’t put up the fight.