Cancer Vets Speak: A Well Again Series
Hey my people, we asked you to tell us: "What do you think is missing from cancer treatment now?" For Jen, it's affordable treatment. Do you relate? We'd love to post your story. Talking with each other is the first step to improving our financial prognosis. —Warmest regards, Anne
I am a 42-year-old breast cancer survivor of three years. I just lost a bc sister, mother of two, aged 38 — so I'm not really at the peak of a cancer cheerleading wave right now. Sometimes I'm more positive, but the last two weeks have been really, really tough.
But you wanted to know what I think is missing? I think we need truly affordable healthcare and financial assistance for those of us in the 99% and unlucky enough to be diagnosed with cancer. My diagnosis happened while we were already just trying to survive financially until both of our children reach kindergarten; while trying to maintain a freelance design business; while trying to send my husband back to school to obtain a teaching credential; and while just trying to maintain our household and some semblance of normal for us during my grueling treatment.
Why should a diagnosis mean financial disaster?
Having cancer is really expensive if you add in lost income, multi-thousand deductible expenses and additional cancer-related expenses not covered by insurance. It makes me sad and angry that so many of us have to hit rock bottom financially due to illness. It is outrageous that up to 65% of bankruptcies in our country are due to medical-related expenses.
And unless you have already hit rock bottom, you are not eligible for any basic government-related assistance. And even that -- when you are facing a shortfall of $15,000–$30,000 per year during and after cancer -- is just a drop in the bucket.
I am alive, I am able to be with my children, and my children are healthy, for which I am truly grateful. But the financial disaster of being diagnosed with a chronic illness is truly devastating. It has taken us two full years to begin to pick up the financial pieces of our lives. That has taken a lot of the joy out of a time that should be filled with as much optimism and joy as possible -- to make the most of whatever time any cancer survivor has, and also to help keep recurrance at bay.
It's just really hard [to be optimistic and joyful] when debt is mounting, and making your modest mortgage payment is a struggle every month. So, that's what I think is missing. Truly affordable healthcare and real financial assistance for survivors.