The Real Cost of CancerSubmitted by Financial Planning Solutions, LLC on October 5th, 2017
Last week, I was asked to attend a symposium in Boston to discuss how we could help improve the survival outcome of cancer patients.
I wasn't asked to attend because I had any insight on treatment options but rather my input on the correlation of healing and financial distress.
For those of you that don't know, I oversee a program at Dana Farber Cancer Institute that provides pro bono financial help to patients struggling financially.
Although research is being done to show that those worrying about money while in treatment don't fare as well as those with no money issues, I don't believe we need to spend good money on these types of studies. Common sense would tell us that when we worry about paying our bills, educating our kids, or being able to retire someday, it affects us negatively. Add in a serious medical issue and it just exacerbates the situation.
The day was hosted by a nonprofit in Boston called Family Reach. They provide a financial lifeline directly to families impacted by cancer. Family Reach does some amazing work and makes a huge difference in some of these people's lives that are torn between paying for groceries or paying the mortgage. There were a few patients and caregivers there that shared their stories which were heart-wrenching as well as inspirational. To learn more about Family Reach, go HERE.
These were hard working people that were living life and then one day it all changed in a moment.
My work with the 400 + families at Dana Farber has shown me that most people (regardless of income) can be a few paychecks away from disaster.
It can be difficult to live within a budget for most people. Throw in gas, parking, meals at the hospital, copays, deductibles, and loss of income due to not working and the situation goes from manageable to stressful in a second. Cancer isn't just about high-cost drugs, operations, and treatments, but also the hidden costs I mentioned above.
At the symposium, I was asked what people can do to protect themselves. Whether cancer or some other catastrophe in life, one must have a plan in place. One of my coaches that helps patients said to me recently, "It would be great if we could get to these folks before they are diagnosed". I responded with, " I think getting to them in high school would be a good idea".
The fact is, sometimes there really isn't much time to plan for these curve balls in life. When they come, they can come fast and furious and when one is in a panic mode, we don't always make the best decisions and it is easy to become paralyzed. For those that are healthy, now is the time to get a plan in place.
Study or no study. I know this much. As awful this type of diagnosis is, if you aren't prepared to take some of the pressure off financially, your recovery could suffer. Having a good disability policy, life policy, and emergency fund can really make a difference.
I urge you to reach out to us to help you establish a plan if you haven't already done so. And if you know anyone struggling financially going through cancer, please pass my name on as I or one of my team members may be able to help them at no cost.
We are here to help.
All the best.
Rick Fingerman, CFP®, CDFA®, CCFS®
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