My battle with breast cancer: Choosing a cancer hospital

I received my diagnosis of breast cancer in November 2011. Initially, I used local doctors and hospitals. The course of treatment my local doctor laid out for me was not what I wanted. That's when I starting searching for a local cancer hospital. The closest facility was a two-hour drive from me, but it was worth the effort.

Choosing a Hospital

My first criteria in choosing a hospital that specialized in cancer treatment was that it had to be close to home. I have 3 kids at home and we home school. Overnight travel is difficult and I would not be able to spend weeks at a facility for treatment. Deciding to stay local gave me one option--Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA).

I called the center and they scheduled me for an evaluation within a couple of weeks. I had to travel back and forth a couple of times but it was well worth the effort. Cancer Treatment Centers of America was able to perform all of the testing and physician consultations I required much faster than my local doctors.

Locally, it took anywhere from three weeks to a month to schedule an appointment for tests or to see a physician. I did not want to wait very long to remove the cancer from my body. The longer it stayed with me, the greater the chances were that it would spread to other areas.

Second Opinion

My biopsy was the reason I decided to look for a second opinion. I had a wire-guided surgical biopsy and it involved traveling to two different local facilities. The first facility placed the wire-guides. Then I had a ten minute drive by car to a second facility to have the surgery performed. The whole ordeal was extremely stressful. If this was how they handled a biopsy, how would they be able to deal with other cancer surgery?

I searched for cancer hospitals close to me. The nearest one was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My only other option would be M.D. Anderson in Texas. Texas was too far for me to travel.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America

I chose Cancer Treatment Centers of America because of their close proximity to where I live. The level of care I received at the treatment center far surpassed anything I could get locally. They were able to perform CT scans, bone scans, labs and physician consultations within a weeks time. After leaving CTCA, I had a plan of action that would include surgery and reconstruction. I would return within a month for a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction.

Insurance

CTCA is not in my insurance plan. They are considered an out-of-network provider. It costs me more to receive my cancer treatment at this facility, but it is worth it. Cancer Treatment Centers of America files all of the insurance claims for me. My local facilities were in-network but I would not have had the same level of care, and by the time surgery was scheduled my cancer might have spread to the lymph system.

My advice to anyone facing cancer is to be comfortable with your doctors and hospitals. If you are not 100 percent sure you are getting the best care possible, look for a second opinion. You might find that a cancer hospital is a better choice.

More from Yahoo! Contributor Network

My battle with breast cancer: Casting for Recovery

My battle with breast cancer: Alternative medicine

Commentary: Topless in Seattle is Not a Good Idea