Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tracy Pierce Sr-His Fight for Life..April 2004-January 2006

Tracy Dion Pierce.. died on January 18, 2006 at home after a courageous battle with Renal Cell Carcinoma (Kidney Cancer). Tracy was a 37 year old African American man from Mission, Kansas. Tracy was a Journeyman Carpenter with Local #61 Carpenter's District Council in Kansas City. Tracy was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma in 2004, the cancer eventually spread to his liver, lungs, lymph nodes, adrenal gland, renal cavity and his brain. This sounds like just another statistic...but it’s not! Tracy was not! Tracy Pierce was a Father of a 14-year old boy, a brother, a son, a friend and he was my husband of 16 years!
On April 10, 2004, one day before his 36th birthday, Tracy was sent to the emergency room for an MRI after an appointment with our family physician. Our worst fears began that day and the nightmare only got worse. The MRI showed a massive mass on his left kidney which needed to be surgical removed immediately. On April 15, 2004 Tracy had surgery, a radical left nephroectomy that was followed by complications which led to another surgery for a blockage in the intestines which kept him in the hospital until May 12, 2004. We were told that Tracy would need to start treatment immediately as it had infected his Lymph nodes and would spread. The first Oncologist was the one assigned to Tracy's case by the surgeon during his hospital stay, he acted as if there were no avenues for us to go and just seemed as if he didn't care. I began looking at other options, by word of mouth I was told to take Tracy to KU Cancer Center at the KU Medical Center-my insurance said they were not in network..Since I work at a hospital I talked to one of our well respected Oncologist, he told me to bring Tracy to see him and he would see what he could do..we did..He referred us to Ella Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia, Missouri...We made the appointment, insurance said it was in network so off we went on the 2 1/2 hour drive..The next morning at our appointment, we were told that our insurance denied it, I argued that I had called prior to coming all this way and it was approved..we ended up paying out of pocket to see this physician...He wanted to start treatment on Tracy right away..Insurance Denied.... The next day when we arrived home, I contacted the benefits department at my employer-St. Joseph Medical Center, within hours we were notified that the reason for the denial was that there was a doctor right here in Kansas City that could treat Tracy. Go figure it was at KU Medical Center. the hospital I originally tried to go to...So we went to see Dr. Peter Van Veldhuizen at the Cancer Center at KU Med.
We had health insurance through my employer St. Joseph Medical Center which is part of Carondelet Health and Ascension Health, so we felt certain that the road to recovery could be promising along with additional treatments and therapy aiding in prolonging his life.....so we thought......WE THOUGHT WRONG! Every treatment that Tracy’s physician submitted to the insurance company for approval was denied except for one which was 2 rounds of Interleukin infusions in September 2004, which were not successful due to the delay in treatments due to denials. When you keep getting denied for everything, you will try anything for that miracle and pray that it works. We did try for Clinical Trials but they have strict guidelines you must meet in ordered to be accepted. By September of 2004 Tracy was disabled and on 2 high dose pain medications and the cancer had spread to his liver and lungs. Early in 2005 it had spread to his adrenal gland, lymph nodes and renal cavity, then by the fall of 2005 it spread to his brain. Our last hope was a Bone Marrow Transplant..When the request was submitted for testing of Tracy and his 2 brothers, it was denied. Then 2 days later I received a call that they were approving the bone marrow work-up...We were ecstatic!!! The results came in 2 weeks later that Tracy's youngest brother was a perfect donor match..the doctor submitted the results.....it was denied! Why would they allow my husband to get his hopes up, approve the testing when they knew they were going to DENY it????? At first we were under the impression that the insurance company "First Health Coventry" was the entity solely responsible for denying my husband treatment, but we found out that the final decisions rested with the medical plans Board of Trustee’s/Plan Administrators at my employer St. Joseph Medical Center. I couldn't believe that my employer was behind this as we are a Catholic Hospital that promotes life. We met with the Board begging for approval, submitting a 27 page appeal letter from the Bone Marrow physician who emphatically pleaded with them to approve necessary treatments.....they DENIED it!!! They had the power to save my husbands life, they put us through false hopes by sending him and his brothers for the testing when they knew they would deny it......How heartless and ruthless is this? They preach that we are a health care that cares for the sick, the dying and the poor-that we are a health care that leaves no one behind....LIES....We fought a long and hard battle for Tracy's right to receive the treatments that his physician ordered and his right to live! and Yes my employer did create the Tracy Pierce Fund after I went on television for the second time and put their name out there... we truly feel it was a PR move to save face and it wasn't enough for any kind of treatment, just to put toward debt we had built up due to denials.
I have boxes of paper work as I didn't throw anything away, I have every denial letter. He was denied from day 1 until his last days. Below is the list, which does not include the ones that were denied when pre-authorization calls were made.
9/04-Interleukin Infusion -approved
2/05-Tarceva-denied
2/05-Celebrex-denied
3/05-Tarceva-denied
3/05-Avastin-denied
3/05-Bone Marrow-denied
4/05-Bone Marrow workup -approved
4/05-Bone Marrow Transplant-denied twice
4/05-Thalomid-denied
5/05-Alfa feron injections-denied
5/05-Bone Marrow Transplant-denied after meeting with the board
11/05-Avastin-denied
1/06-Morphine--took 6 days for an approval---6 days too late
Hey....but Hospice was approved..
When the cancer moved to his brain, they did do Radiation for 7 days and he took an oral steroid not for treatment purposes but to try to control the swelling to help with the headaches and confusion he was experiencing. During the last 5 days of his life we were waiting on approval for oral morphine, it was finally approved the day he died! Thank God for Hospice they had morphine there the day 1 of his last 5 days. Every 2 weeks I had money taken out of my check for insurance and what did he get...a death sentence because they wanted to save a buck! My husband deserved every opportunity to receive any and all treatments prescribed/ordered by his physician, he deserved every chance to live. He may not be here physically any longer to fight this battle, but he is in my heart and I will not let this go unanswered. I promised Tracy that I would continue to fight for the right to receive health care treatments that our Physicians order and by the grace of God...Michael Moore found me and allowed me to tell Tracy's story in his move "SiCKO"....PLEASE just remember this could be you or someone that you love.. We have to make a change NOW...Please support HR676 Healthcare for ALL!!!!
May God Bless You.
Julie Pierce & त्रच्य जर.

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