Denied but Not Defeated — Bubbles UP!

Jon Acton
4 min readSep 17

Denied but not defeated — Bubbles Up!

There were a few choice words that recently came to mind when I was denied a rather important test/scan in my cancer journey. The definitive scan for cancer patients to determine where, what, and sometimes a WTF declaration with cancer is called a Positron Emission Tomography or PET scan for short. I have had two PET scans at earlier stages in my cancer journey. They are basically pain-free procedures that come with an extra-large side of anxiety. A patient is first loaded up with an IV full of radiation to spotlight areas in the body where cancer may be trying to hide and maneuver that cannot be detected with CT scans or MRIs.

It would be cool if I could tell you that the radiation infusion creates Spiderman-type Spidey Senses, amazing Hulk smash strength, or even a lovely lightning bug type glow to help illuminate the darkness. (Fireflies, for my friends out east) Alas, none of those scenarios happen, or at least my experiences have been pretty boring. Instead, I try to calm my nerves, have an IV infusion of radiation, sit for a half hour to allow full spread of the liquid gold, lay prone in an uncomfortable tube straight out of a Star Trek set, and wait for the nice technicians to say I’m all done while trying not to give away any results by the looks on their faces.

Until now. Apparently, now I don’t fit a statistical formula/data point that the insurance company (I will not say which one) monitors to say that my life is worth more than the cost of this procedure. Let me repeat that. Apparently, this scan/medical procedure is more costly than the value of my life. This is not being fed a slice of humble pie; this is being served every pie that Sara Lee currently has stocked in every grocery store in the US.

I go by a lot of names and titles that I am proud of. Husband, Dad, Brother, Superintendent, former coach and over the past two years, a cancer pirate. I am a Stage Three rectal cancer fighter, currently in what we call the “eye of the storm.” Right now, I have no chemotherapy, radiation or even immunotherapy treatments. I take maintenance medication to try to minimize the repercussions of cancer’s destruction on the body and maximize this relative time of calm.

Cancer is an insidious disease designed to cause harm, heartache and ultimately death. Cancer equally affects the rich and poor, the famous and the average Joe. Cancer fighters may (at least this cancer fighter does too…

Jon Acton

Husband, Father, Former School Superintendent, National Blue Ribbon School Principal, Teacher, Coach, Author in progress