The Big C

A journey through Stage Four Cancer

Money! Money! Money!

I never really understood how sick I was, until I had returned home months later.  I’m not really sure what shocked me more, reading all the things that were wrong with me that could have individually killed me, or the price to diagnose and try to treat them.

I had never owed so much money in my life! My husband had never owed so much money in his life!  I’m sure my entire living family didn’t owe that much money cumulatively!

Yes, I had insurance.  I had really good insurance, or so I thought.  There was insurance speak; non-participating provider.  Some of the charges, my insurance had paid as little as $10 toward.

For the first time I felt guilty; guilty for bringing this kind of expense to my family.  This sickness had radically changed the future of my remaining minor children.  This cancer(s) had changed whether my husband would be able to retire when planned, or retire at all.  My guilt quickly escalated, and I began to wish, to regret, that I hadn’t delayed my trip to the Emergency Room by another eight hours, because I would have most probably died and not have put this burden on my family.  Especially since statistics said I’d be dead anyway in five years.

Understandably I felt extremely guilty and began to sink into a deep depression.

I’m relating this, because what has happened to me is not uncommon to serious cancer patients.  Don’t feel this way, there is hope!

First, get organized.  What I found worked the best for me was to buy one of the large ringed, vinyl binders.  You usually find them at Staples type store. Also buy those paper board dividers with the little colored plastic tabs at the top.  Buy a three hole punch. Buy a ledger book, and an accordion file.

Now, it’s time to start.

1.  Go over the bills you have in the house now.  I know there are a million of them, and more people than you even realized you ever saw.  Make Divider tabs for them.  Some of mine were Rhode Island Hospital, Connecticut Hospital, New England Lab Services, New England Medical Devices.  You might have to buy more than three packages of dividers, I had to. Punch holes into each bill, and put it into the binder.

2. Now go over to the ledger, make a three page section for each of the bills that you have right now.  In addition, make three page sections for Miscellaneous Medical Services, and Misc. Medical Supplies.

3. Work on only a few of the bills per day, or you will exhaust yourself.  Go over each bill and look for mistakes, more than likely you will find some.  Sometime insurance will erroneously refuse to pay toward a bill and all you need to do is talk to a manager, not the first representative to talk to you.

4.  Suppose that all the bills are correct, you can ask for the institution to reduce your bill, or even write it off.  Often they will do this if you level with them and explain that your insurance hasn’t covered the majority of your bill or that the bill is so overwhelming that you just can’t pay it.

5.  Call the American Cancer Society and ask them about any grants that might be available toward your expenses.  You can also try calling different Church, Fraternity etc groups and asking if they can help toward your bill.

6.  Finally, you can’t get blood from a stone.  In other words, if you don’t have the resources to pay a bill, you just don’t have it.  Unfortunately, the days when you could pay twenty or thirty dollars a month toward a bill seem in most places to be over.  But, in the USA, at least for now, you can NOT be put in jail or prison for being in debt.

7.  FILE EVERYTHING.  All your medical bills.  Every prescription.  Make sure you enter the day, the item, how you paid and the amount you paid on the correct page of your ledger.  Make sure you keep every bill and every receipt.  At tax time, you’ll be ready!

Finally, put it all into perspective!  You are alive!  What price do you th ink your family would consider too high to have you with them, for any amount of time? 

Let me ask you a question, why do so many gamblers have such huge debt?  Because they play a numbers game, and numbers, statistics are wildly unpredicatable!! 

Life expectancy predictions don’t take into consideration the most important variable, YOU!  Your will to live, your desire to be there for your children. YOU!

Where there is life, there is hope.  Live hopefully!

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