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Topic: Common legal issues? Do you get support?

Forum: Employment, Insurance, and Other Financial Issues —

Employment, insurance, and financial concerns are common. Meet others here to discuss and for support.

Posted on: Jun 4, 2018 07:49AM

jurisdoctor wrote:

Hey all,

I hope this isn't a misdirected post.

My mother was recently diagnosed with Stage 3, ER/PR+ HER- breast cancer. In perusing the forums here and reaching out to members for guidance, I have been struck by how much the community does to help lift fellow members up and guide them through what is, for many, one of the most trying experiences of their lives. I have also been struck, unfortunately, with how much has been left unclear on the administrative side (insurance claims, etc.) for patients. Every time I help my mom contest some phantom bill or deal with patient record portability issues, I wonder how patients that face similar problems but don't have an attorney in the family handle it.

What I'm wondering is, as a community, do you all generally find that there are nonprofits available to assist you with these kinds of issues? Does the American Cancer Society, or any other interest group, do anything to provide you with pro bono attorney hours or financial planning assistance? An admittedly cursory Google search has turned up next to nothing.

If my research is indicative of a lack of support on that front, I'd be interested in trying to assemble some kind of network of attorneys that are willing to donate their time to help patients and their families. If there is already such a group in existence, I'd like to lend my support -- either with my time or financially.

Thanks in advance for your time.

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Jun 4, 2018 05:16PM edwards750 wrote:

Wow thank you so much jurisdoctor. While I’m not in need of legal assistance - I have a number of lawyers available to me through a club I belong to - I’m sure there are ladies who could benefit from legal assistance.

I’ve had to do battle with doctors offices too as it has to do with billing. It is frustrating and stressful especially when you are already dealing with a serious illness. To add insult to injury sometimes only a lawyer can resolve billing disputes.

Thanks again.


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Jun 4, 2018 05:34PM MelissaDallas wrote:

I don't know if your area has something similar, but here is an org that helps (maybe not so much with claims-but similar) in our area. My cousin is an attorney and does estate planning documents for referrals from them.


LCIS, extensive sclerosing adenosis, TAH/BSO & partial omentectomy for mucinous borderline ovarian tumor.
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Jun 4, 2018 06:02PM SpecialK wrote:

This is not something I had any trouble with, despite a year of systemic treatment and numerous surgeries, and nobody I know personally has needed legal help with these issues either - that includes my local BCO members, several family members who were diagnosed stage IV from the outset, and a number of friends. I know that some have used patient navigators or case workers at their treatment centers to help. If more specific legal help is needed, and one doesn't have access to a personal attorney or financial planner, there is the Cancer Legal Resource Center, linked below. I believe they are affiliated with Loyola University Law school, or they were.


BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3
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Jun 4, 2018 07:47PM - edited Jun 4, 2018 07:57PM by ShetlandPony

What a kind offer. There are two areas in which I would be glad to find help.

First, I wish I knew of a way to find the right person to help with "getting my affairs in order" (for example, a will and trust to spare my family future probate taxes and fees). I would like to find someone who knows about the particular legal and financial issues cancer patients face, and who would guide me through the process. (As of now, I still haven't done anything because it is all so foreign to me.) If that help could be free or low-cost, that would help lighten the burden, as cancer costs a lot and I want to spend some money on enjoying life while I can, too. As you see from my "stats" below, I am a lifer.

Second, I was unable to find a tax or retirement consultant to advise me on exactly how to go about cashing in a small retirement account while avoiding the early withdrawal penalty. The tax professional said, "We have never had this question before and we don't know who to refer you to. Call the IRS". The cancer social workers gave me a number for a center like the one SpecialK mentions above. It appeared that my question was probably not in their realm, and the phone answerer would not check to see if anyone there could even address my question without my first providing a lot of personal information. This person seemed to be there to prevent my actually getting through to anyone who could tell me if it was worth jumping through their hoops. As a cancer patient, I spend a lot of time on the phone and dealing with paperwork related to treatment, and I don't need more hassle from someone who is supposed to help. Oops, bit of a rant there.

I have located a financial planner who I think will help us figure out what to do now that I won't be going back to work after child raising. I hope they will help me with how to make decisions that address saving for my family's future vs. living and enjoying today with them. I will pay this person, but the fee seems reasonable.

Best wishes to you and your mom.

2011 Stage I ILC ER+PR+ Her2- 1.5 cm grade 1, ITCs sn . Lumpectomy, radiation, tamoxifen. 2014 Stage IV ILC ER+PR+Her2- grade 2, mets to breast , liver. Taxol NEAD. 2015,2016 Ibrance+letrozole. 2017 Faslodex+Afnitor; Xeloda. 2018,2019 Xeloda NEAD
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Jun 4, 2018 08:04PM ShetlandPony wrote:

Yes, HapB, a service to offer all cancer patients! We are now living in a time when looking out for the patient's social-emotional-mental health is recognized as an important aspect of cancer care. Now what about our financial health? The financial impact of cancer and cancer treatment is huge, and it in turn affects our physical and mental health.

2011 Stage I ILC ER+PR+ Her2- 1.5 cm grade 1, ITCs sn . Lumpectomy, radiation, tamoxifen. 2014 Stage IV ILC ER+PR+Her2- grade 2, mets to breast , liver. Taxol NEAD. 2015,2016 Ibrance+letrozole. 2017 Faslodex+Afnitor; Xeloda. 2018,2019 Xeloda NEAD
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Jun 4, 2018 08:07PM MelissaDallas wrote:

Shetland, usually simple estate planning is very reasonable. One of the attorneys I work with only charges about $350 to do a will, durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, directive to physicians, declaration of guardian & HIPAA authorization

LCIS, extensive sclerosing adenosis, TAH/BSO & partial omentectomy for mucinous borderline ovarian tumor.
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Jun 4, 2018 08:28PM - edited Jun 4, 2018 08:29PM by ShetlandPony

Thank you, MelissaDallas. Now at least I have a list of what is needed and a ballpark price. Remember the old Star Trek? "Dammit Jim, I'm an artist, not a lawyer!"

2011 Stage I ILC ER+PR+ Her2- 1.5 cm grade 1, ITCs sn . Lumpectomy, radiation, tamoxifen. 2014 Stage IV ILC ER+PR+Her2- grade 2, mets to breast , liver. Taxol NEAD. 2015,2016 Ibrance+letrozole. 2017 Faslodex+Afnitor; Xeloda. 2018,2019 Xeloda NEAD
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Jun 4, 2018 08:32PM jurisdoctor wrote:

Thank you everyone for these replies -- they are most helpful! It sounds to me that there is definitely a need (I suspected as much, but I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel if there was already a comprehensive service made available to patients.

edwards750 -- I couldn't agree more! The furthest thing from one's mind during these sorts of trials (so to speak) should be the concern that Ts have not been crossed.

MelissaDallas -- I have heard of such services for terminal patients, this is helpful thank you. I am thinking of something for patients that, while not necessarily terminal, still do not have the time or psychological disposable energy to navigate these kinds of issues.

SpecialK -- thank you! This is exactly the kind of resource I was not finding in my (admittedly cursory) research. It looks like they can provide a lot of information and have an ability to ask a question, they might be most of the way there in terms of what I was thinking.

ShetlandPony -- I'm sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience. As for getting affairs in order, wills, powers of attorneys and those sorts of documents are largely form-based. So I definitely see a potential avenue by which a nonprofit of some sort could provide the forms and some basic guidance, with an ability to ask a question if there is some kind of specific complication or twist. As for your tax issue, as a tax attorney myself, I can attest to the fact that non-tax attorneys essentially want nothing to do with issues of taxation or the IRS. It is something that attorneys seeking to specialize in typically go for an extra year of training for.

HapB -- Thanks for the feedback! Here in NJ and PA there are clinics for indigent clients as well, but as you say I have not seen anything tailored for cancer patients specifically. I think tailoring would serve two purposes: first and foremost it would ensure that patients were put in contact with someone, or information, that was most likely to be applicable to them; second, and perhaps actually just as importantly, it would make clear to a cancer patient seeking information and/or guidance that the service is for them. An information portal dedicated to providing information for terminal patients generally might a) never be found by a non-terminal patient and b) even if it is found, the patient would be unsure if the same information applies to them. Sorry, didn't mean for that to turn in to a lecture, just bouncing my ideas off you! :-)

In general, I think there is something here to contribute to. First it might be an informational service that just provides general guidance, but I'd like to see some kind of network of participating attorneys set up. I'm going a bit off topic here, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a participating attorneys mailing list that sends out requests for representation/guidance for individuals targeted by media companies for copyright infringements, etc. I'm envisioning something similar, along with some information for attorneys that are not necessarily experts in a particular field, but would be willing to assist.

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Jun 11, 2018 01:49PM Puzzlewoman wrote:

I would love to have help navigating all of this. I’m horrible at it and it causes me a lot of stress and it’s support I don’t really have (I do have lots of other support thankfully). My banker can help with financial questions/issues, but trying to dispute and medical bills/denied claims - I have no idea what I’m doing. Very nice if you to think about and ask

Dx 3/13/2018, DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery 3/26/2018 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 6/4/2018 Breast
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Jun 11, 2018 04:17PM Mucki1991 wrote:

What would be super is if we could all stop getting termed from our jobs for having BC. FMLA only offers so much protection. The loss of income and health insurance is devastating to families. Navigating long term disability insurance, applying for disability benefits, health insurance issues the list goes. Sorry for the rant I'm a wee bit sensitive to these issues at the moment.

Rebekah Dx 5/5/2017, ILC/IDC/IDC: Papillary, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 7/14/2017 Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 8/22/2017 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 2/8/2018 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Radiation Therapy 2/26/2018 3DCRT: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 4/20/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 9/17/2018 Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Surgery 1/25/2019
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Nov 28, 2018 08:11AM Lumpie wrote:

I wanted to encourage other MBC'ers to share your workplace stories at this new discussion:

MBC and Your Job -- what's your story?


Interesting thread!

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC) Chemotherapy 1/13/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy: Right Surgery Lumpectomy: Right

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