A cancer diagnosis has repercussions that go beyond the physical issues of the patient. Unfortunately, cancer can affect the patient and family emotionally and financially, as well. While working to sort through treatment plans, procedure dates and other care coordination, financial stress can start to set in almost immediately. Financial help for cancer patients isn’t always easy to find at first. There are insurance issues, medical bills that arrive almost daily and the worry that accompanies a cancer diagnosis when the patient is the family’s breadwinner. The stress is serious. In hopes of helping your family prevent a cash flow crisis, here are some time-tested tips for financial help for cancer patients.
Involve the patient’s employer
The first step toward finding financial help for cancer patients is to actively involve the patient’s employer. Certainly, you don’t have to disclose the diagnosis to everyone at the office. However, informing a few key people can help you get a handle on financial help that may be available to your family. Work closely with your loved one’s supervisor and someone in HR for assistance with filing for disability benefits and exploring other options like pulling money out retirement investments.
Consider a part-time gig
The sudden cutoff of a steady income associated with the onset of illness can be scary, especially if you do not currently work. In order to bring in some extra money during this trying time, it is wise to search for part-time employment that will allow for you to still be available during most of the week to care for your loved one. Search for work that you can do from home or during times when others can help out with care duties at home (i.e., weekends or evenings). Your time at work will provide your family with income, decrease your financial anxiety and give you a good reason to get out of the house.
Be up front with your bill collectors
Instead of waiting until your bills go unpaid for months at a time, start working with your bank and bill collectors sooner rather than later. Inform them about your current situation and ask how you can start on a payment plan that is manageable for you. Most companies will happily work with you as long as you keep up on your smaller payments each month.
Cook your meals at home
Small changes made at home can help you save money. An easy way to keep your spending in check is to make a commitment to cook, rather than bringing home takeout. While it can be especially easy to grab food from a drive-through after a long day at the doctor’s office, opt instead to save that money and cook your meals. If you find cooking to be overwhelming, ask for help. Your friends and family would likely love to help by stocking your fridge and freezer with meals that are ready to eat. There are even online tools that can help friends and family schedule meals and make sure your covered.
Take a class
If you are struggling with spending, saving or budgeting your money during this time of medical crisis, don’t try to handle it on your own. Your hospital, community center, bank or cancer treatment center might offer financial planning classes that you can take to empower yourself to make better financial decisions. You will meet other people going through a similar situation and learn tips for cutting down on your spending.
It can seem overwhelming to consider financial planning, especially when your family is trying to process a cancer diagnosis and the emotional roller coaster that comes with it. However, if you are able to enlist the right people to help you, it can ease that financial burden.