Keri's Metastatic Breast Cancer Story: Insurance Problems Getting Oxycontin and Not a Generic

Doug Haberstroh Health Guide
  • My name is Doug Haberstroh, and this is the story of my wife Keri, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 25. After several rounds of treatment, the cancer spread to her sacrum, causing intense pain. Keri's update email sent to our friends and loved ones describes her frustration with her pain and the lack of relief she has from it.


    We were also dealing with a struggle between ourselves and our insurance to fill a prescription for name-brand painkiller. Our doctor had prescribed Oxycontin for Keri's pain, but our insurance policy was that a generic substitute (Oxycodone Hydrochloride) was a suitable substitute. I cannot go into too many details, but it was just another thing that didn't need to be on our list of things at the time.

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    Subject: The Latest

    Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2006 2:53 PM


    Hi Everyone,


    Just thought I'd fill you in on the latest things going on down here. I am going in for my 5th treatment next Wednesday on August 23rd. I think we are finally on the right track with the chemo drugs and we have found a combination that we will be sticking with. It includes... Epirubicin, Cytoxan, Abraxane, and Neupogen.


    Neupogen is a cell boosting shot that I get four times after my chemo one day at a time. It is given this way so that it is in small dosages over a longer period of time to reduce the side effects that go along with it. I received these shots last week and the only side effect I felt was some fatigue after getting the shot. Not too bad if it helps my cell count to stay afloat.


    As for my pain we have hit a bump in the road. I have finally figured out which medicine is the best and that I need the name brand version and not the generic, but it seems that our insurance will not cover the name brand. Therefore I am stuck using the generic which does not do its job and causes me to use other medication for the in between time to help ease the pain.


    Doug and I are both very frustrated with the insurance not allowing us to receive the name brand quality of this medicine. He is working on it with his commander and other people on base that deal with our insurance. Maybe through the chain of command someone with a higher authority will be able to help us.


    Other than that I am just filling my time and waiting for this cancer to go away. I can't drive unless I really have to. It is very uncomfortable so unless I have no other choice I try to wait until someone else can drive me. That's a frustrating thing for me.


    If my pain was under control I could drive and get those errands done, but being in pain I can't drive and therefore I am stuck in the house most days. I have started to read the books that I had stacked in my room and that helps some, but other than that I have a tv schedule that I know what's on when from the time I get up until Doug gets home from work. Pretty pathetic huh?


    Well they are keeping Doug busy at work. He is taking a small break from his Master's classes, but he has a leadership class with the Air Force that he has to attend. It takes place in Alabama and goes from September 11th through October 13th. He'll be there the entire time.


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    I am staying at home since I will have treatments that I have to be here for. I do have some family and friends that are visiting during that time and that will help me fill that time without Doug here. Plus it's only 5 weeks and I'm sure the time will go by quickly. Not much else to report.


    We still don't know when we will be moving or where we will be sent. There are budget cuts and other things going on in the Air Force that are higher up than moving us so we'll just wait until words come down. Well, I need to go now I am getting uncomfortable in this chair. I hope you all are doing well and your families too. I'll be keeping in touch.


    Love to you all,




    A Note from Doug: I also wrote a SharePost detailing our struggle to get a brand name painkiller (Oxycontin) that Keri had been prescribed approved by our insurers. It was part of a post I wrote in preparation for the LIVESTRONG Presidential Cancer Forum in August 2007. For more details, please read: "Access to Brand Name Prescription Drugs."

Published On: January 14, 2008