A cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event, and while the emotional and physical toll of the disease is widely recognized, the financial burden created by a cancer diagnosis frequently goes unnoticed.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the challenging issue of financial toxicity associated with cancer treatment, offering practical strategies and resources to help individuals and families cope with the exorbitant costs and severe financial stress that often accompany a cancer diagnosis.
What is “Financial Toxicity”?
“Financial toxicity” is used to describe the adverse financial consequences of cancer treatment—not only for patients, but also for their families.
The term encompasses a range of money-related challenges, from those you might have been aware of (like costly medical bills) to the unexpected, indirect costs of cancer care (such as transportation, accommodation, and childcare). Cancer treatment cost can extend far beyond medical bills—consider the expenses associated with:
- Frequent doctor visits
- Traveling for treatment
- Having to take time off work (which can create a substantial loss of income precisely when patients need it the most)
These kinds of financial struggles can have a seriously negative impact on the overall well-being of cancer patients, making the already difficult experience of cancer treatment that much more stressful.
Strategies and Resources for Dealing with Financial Toxicity During Cancer Treatment
Cancer is a formidable adversary, but individuals and families can better manage the financial toxicity that often accompanies the disease by seeking out the right support. If your finances are proving to be a source of stress during your cancer treatment, here are some recommendations for strategies and resources that can help:
Build a Financial Safety Net
A financial safety net is a crucial fallback when facing cancer. Start by reviewing your health insurance coverage to understand what is and isn’t covered. Then, create a budget to track your expenses and identify areas where you can cut costs. This budgeting process can help you allocate your resources more efficiently.
Contact Financial Assistance Programs
There are numerous programs that exist to provide financial assistance to cancer patients and their families. Look into local and national programs that provide financial support, such as those offered by cancer-focused nonprofit organizations and government agencies. These programs can help with medical bills, transportation, and even housing, relieving at least some of the monetary burden of your treatment.
Communicate with Your Healthcare Providers
You might want to raise your financial concerns with your healthcare team, as they may have information about resources and programs to help alleviate some financial burdens. Additionally, inquire with them about negotiating medical bills or seeking financial counseling—they may be able to direct you to the department at your local hospital that can offer further guidance.
Reach Out for Emotional Support
Financial toxicity can take a toll on your emotional well-being. Seek support from friends and family, as well as from a therapist who can help you navigate the emotional challenges of financial stress (if possible, look for a counselor who specializes in providing therapeutic support to those navigating serious illness). Support groups and online communities for cancer patients can also be valuable resources for exchanging mutual support with individuals who share your firsthand experience.
Account for Long-Term Financial Planning
As you progress through your cancer journey, it’s a good idea to consider long-term financial planning, if possible. This includes assessing the impact of cancer on your future financial goals and seeking advice on managing your finances post-treatment.
Consider a Life Insurance Policy Appraisal
If you currently have a life insurance policy, consider getting it appraised through 2Cancer to see if you qualify to sell it for needed cash (what’s known as a life insurance policy settlement).
A life insurance settlement can help relieve some or all of your financial burdens, providing an effective and relatively straightforward solution to the financial toxicity associated with cancer treatment by allowing you to access the funds from your insurance policy.
By lightening the load of debts and medical expenses, a life insurance settlement makes it easier for you to focus on pursuing treatment while tending to your health (both mental and physical)—these should be your two biggest priorities during cancer treatment.