Buenos Aires Diary

In 2010 while living in Buenos Aires, I was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. After spending what money I had and selling everything to get treated in the private system, I had to rely on public health care in Argentina, which is open to everyone. These are the posts I wrote during and after treatment. I did not talk to cancer, nor did I win any sort of battle against cancer. From my perspective now, my survival seems to have resulted from a combination of dumb luck, stubbornness, and charity from surprising sources. I also had sex a couple times and got robbed.

I have cancer

On November 30 I entered Rivadavia public hospital in Buenos Aires with severe peretonitis caused by a 5 cm tumor blocking my lower intestine. Emergency surgery removed half the tumor and repaired the perforation of my colon. (Well, actually, they cut off the dead part of my colon and stitched up the two loose ends.) …

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The waiting

I’ve been impressed before with the relative lack of bureaucracy involved in obtaining free health care in Buenos Aires. Basically, show up, show your documents — a U.S. passport is as valid as an Argentine DNI — tell them what’s wrong, fill out a few forms and get treated. I’ve always gotten the feeling that …

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Facebook form letter

I got my results back from my tomography/CT scan and consulted with my oncologist today. I have a consultation with the radiation therapy doctors in a couple days. Radiation treatment will probably start next week. I finally came out of the closet to my friends: Sorry for the form letter but it would really be …

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After consulting with Rivadavia’s radiation doctors — and getting yet another doctor’s finger wiggling up my ass — the whole department encouraged me to forego treatment in the public hospital and instead seek treatment in a private clinic. The head of the department said that the machines in the public hospital were obsolete and would …

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sticker shock

When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The price for radiotherapy is not 4500, nor 5500 nor even 10,000 pesos. It’s almost AR $25,000. Or USD $6,200. [Side note: I talked to my boss about the possibility of borrowing the money to do this. His response: Well, I could lend you …

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Thanks to Kate, Keli and Hannah for donating. Share the widget if you can. I’m not really looking so happy yet today. Since I’d been having trouble sleeping, my boss gave me an ambien. This morning my head feels like the rubbery tip of a spatula and I’m having trouble typing. I did sleep OK.

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