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Topic: A Survivor in need of financial advisor

Forum: Employment, Insurance, and Other Financial Issues —

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

Posted on: Nov 8, 2018 03:29AM

BellaBellaBella wrote:

I was diagnosed with breast cancer while a struggling working single mom. I have full custody of my daughter and was in my mid 30's when I received the catastrophic diagnose. Though a professional, I was living paycheck to paycheck because I did not receive any child support. Moreover, even though I had a job and good insurance, I was unable to pay the extra expense of deductibles and copays. I simply didn't have a penny for unexpected expenses.

In addition, the physical and emotional toll the diagnose and the subsequent treatment (on top of being already stretched thin caring for my young child) had a paralyzing effect. The bills were piling up, and I found myself more and more anxious about opening them and to accessing the damage. I was told by my doctors and family to focus on getting well and not to worry about the bills. I was too alone and overwhelmed fighting that beast.

Fast forward to now, I am officially a survivor as of this fall. My daughter is in middle school, I have a decent job with modest pay, and I am in graduate school. However, I am drowning in bills. I am trying to get back up on my feet and move forward, but the financial burden of the years I was too depressed and anxious to face the damage is weighing heavy me. My blood pressure has been high ever since the treatment, and I know I can not bear the stress any longer. My daughter does not have anyone but me; she needs me alive.

I desperately need help, not necessarily in the form of monetary assistance but in the form of someone who could pull my report and help me address my bills one by one. To create a plan I can follow and help me relieve the anxiety I have about the financial burden that cancer caused. Both directly in the form of treatment bills and indirectly in the form of other statements that that got buried under my treatment bills and never got addressed. A pro bono financial advisor familiar with the post-treatment financial burden on survivors perhaps.

Dx 7/2013, DCIS, Right, 6cm+, Stage 0, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR- Dx 8/2013, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 8/4/2013 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy 9/11/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/11/2013 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Nov 8, 2018 06:59AM - edited Nov 8, 2018 07:01AM by Georgia1

Good morning, and good for you for realizing you need some help. Some places to try for free advice include your bank, your credit union, or your HR department - sometimes companies offer this service through the firms that handle their retirement savings plans.

There is also an organization called the Foundation for Financial Planning that provides free help to cancer survivors.

And radio hosts Dave Ramsey and Suze Orsman have basic advice on their websites.

Best of luck. We're rooting for you.

Cancer touched my breast so I kicked its ass. Dx 9/3/2017, ILC/IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/10/2017, LCIS, Right, 0/1 nodes Surgery 10/10/2017 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/27/2017 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 1/2/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Nov 8, 2018 08:07AM BellaBellaBella wrote:

Thank you so much, Georgia. I did call my employer-sponsored financial consultant. He was nice. It was about a year ago. He only gave me some advice which was to pull my report and call those I owe money one by one to negotiate. I got really motivated for a day, but then I got swamped (as I mentioned, I have full custody, work full time and am a full-time graduate student.) I blinked and months passed. I put it off and the more I put it off, the more anxious I became actually to follow through.

I understand that my issue is as much emotional and irrational as it is financial and rational. But I simply do not have the time to see a therapist or join a support group. I cannot take that time from my daughter. What I need is someone who will help me, take charge and keep me on track until I fix my situation.

Sometimes I feel that what I'm missing is what most patients receive from friends, family and their community. Just someone to give me motivation without judging me. But I'm all alone. My relationship ended the day I received invasive cancer diagnoses (which meant I won't be having more children) and my family is not really involved in my and my daughter's life. I've been too busy working to create a social network. And I feel a bit like a social outsider being a single parent and a cancer survivor. Most of the people I know are married or have no kids and did not go through cancer.

I looked on the FFP site. There was nothing for actual patients. I could not find one part of the site that helped me navigate to a help page of some sort. It seemed like it was focused on them and on collecting donation, not on distributing help. I live in DC, looked like another DC nonprofit raising funds. I may be wrong.


Dx 7/2013, DCIS, Right, 6cm+, Stage 0, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR- Dx 8/2013, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 8/4/2013 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy 9/11/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/11/2013 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Nov 8, 2018 10:33AM Moderators wrote:

Hi BellaBellaBella,

We welcome you warmly to Breastcancer.org. You've certainly managed, and continue to manage, quite a load. It's admirable that you are looking for assistance.

Perhaps you could make a call to the FFP and see it they could set up a meeting for you with one of their pro bono volunteer advisors. What is fortunate is that they are also in DC! (202) 864-5183

Please keep us posted.

Hugs,

The Mods

To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...
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Nov 8, 2018 11:00AM JoE777 wrote:

I will jump right in the middle. When taking care of my Mom's lack of finances and I didn't have the money, I took each providers bill from their billing office-not a collection agency- and wrote a $5 check with account number on it and put it in the mail. This was her good faith attempt at paying the bill down. Next I personally visited each office close enough for me to travel to and personally shared the problem and asked for a reduction of the bill. If it was too far for me to travel I made the phone call and shared the same info. I first informed them respectfully that I would not send any money to a collection agency since they get a portion of the money and I would send it directly to them . One office cut it in half another wrote it off and the others got the 5 a month. when collection agencies called I told them the same thing. When they threatened with bad credit I respectfully told them lung and brain caner and a terminal DXwas our only concern but they were wasting man power and postage by pursuing this path. The calls and letters stopped. A good faith payment even when small goes a long way. It took me two years to pay my prolia shot out. My first payment to my hospital was received as an agreement to pay that amount on my next billing without any phone calls. Good luck . Try to breath and maybe take a day off with your sweet family to appreciate and love them, then do one provider a day. You'll be better to search for free financial help when you can deal one thing at a time. Hugs and peace for this day. Maybe a sister who lives in your state can research what's available in your state. Keep us in the loop. You never know who might have a pathway to help. J

Dx 2/2012, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, metastasized to bone, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/3/2012 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx 2/2018, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/lungs, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Targeted Therapy Kisqali Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Chemotherapy Other Radiation Therapy External: Bone Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane), Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Nov 8, 2018 11:01AM JoE777 wrote:

I will jump right in the middle. When taking care of my Mom's lack of finances and I didn't have the money, I took each providers bill from their billing office-not a collection agency- and wrote a $5 check with account number on it and put it in the mail. This was her good faith attempt at paying the bill down. Next I personally visited each office close enough for me to travel to and personally shared the problem and asked for a reduction of the bill. If it was too far for me to travel I made the phone call and shared the same info. I first informed them respectfully that I would not send any money to a collection agency since they get a portion of the money and I would send it directly to them . One office cut it in half another wrote it off and the others got the 5 a month. when collection agencies called I took took their cal and told them the same thing. When they threatened with bad credit I respectfully told them lung and brain caner and a terminal DXwas our only concern but they were wasting man power and postage by pursuing this path. The calls and letters stopped. A good faith payment even when small goes a long way. It took me two years to pay my prolia shot out. My first payment to my hospital was received as an agreement to pay that amount on my next billing.

Dx 2/2012, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, metastasized to bone, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/3/2012 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx 2/2018, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/lungs, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Targeted Therapy Kisqali Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Chemotherapy Other Radiation Therapy External: Bone Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane), Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Nov 8, 2018 11:04AM JoE777 wrote:

Sorry for repeat. Been having trouble with site

Dx 2/2012, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, metastasized to bone, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/3/2012 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx 2/2018, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/lungs, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Targeted Therapy Kisqali Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Chemotherapy Other Radiation Therapy External: Bone Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane), Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Nov 8, 2018 11:06AM LovefromPhilly wrote:

hi there - when I received my BC diagnoses I was just out of grad school, thousands of dollars in both tuition and credit card debt (from a relationship gone bad) and needed to slow my life down so I could heal and focus on me. I searched for financial support and debt consolidation and was told to keep just paying the minimum payments which kept me in a very stressful financial bind.

I decided after some serious pondering to file for bankruptcy. And I can not express how happy I am that I made that decision! The attorney allowed me to make payment installments and the payments were less $$ than I had to pay for the minimum ofy combined bills, so I could handle it.

I think that after a cancer diagnosis it is okay and very normal to do something like file for bankruptcy.

Good luck! Feel free to PM me if you have any questions

With Love From Philly Dx 3/25/2017, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy 4/5/2017 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy Ibrance (palbociclib)
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Nov 8, 2018 11:06AM - edited Nov 8, 2018 11:07AM by LovefromPhilly

This Post was deleted by LovefromPhilly.
With Love From Philly Dx 3/25/2017, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy 4/5/2017 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy Ibrance (palbociclib)
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Nov 8, 2018 12:30PM - edited Nov 8, 2018 12:32PM by BellaBellaBella

This Post was deleted by BellaBellaBella.
Dx 7/2013, DCIS, Right, 6cm+, Stage 0, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR- Dx 8/2013, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 8/4/2013 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy 9/11/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/11/2013 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Nov 8, 2018 12:33PM BellaBellaBella wrote:

Thank you so much for your response, JoE777. The advice is similar to that I have received from the free advice provided by my work (through Liberty Mutual I think.) The bigger issue is: I do not have the time. I am raising a child single highhandedly (she is 13 now), have a full time 9-5 office job and am in grad school full time. Another issue is: the topic causes great anxiety and I have BP issues. So every time I start, I put it down to cal down and bring my BP back down. And then I drop the ball because I have so much on my plate. It is an emotional issue as much as it is financial. I really need for someone to "hold my hand" through this. I have been strong and doing everything on my own. But this, I need human help with. Someone to make a plan for me so that it takes some of the burden off my shoulders. I do well at work and in school with a clear set of rules and steps. Bureaucracy, I am not good at.

Dx 7/2013, DCIS, Right, 6cm+, Stage 0, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR- Dx 8/2013, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 8/4/2013 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy 9/11/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/11/2013 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Nov 8, 2018 12:41PM BellaBellaBella wrote:

Thank you for the input, Love From Philly. And sorry for what you are going through. My college is paid off and my job pays for most of my grad school tuition. I had an insurance when I was diagnosed. My issue was that I was paycheck to paycheck. Meaning, I did not have the extra $35 copay I had to pay weekly for some appointment. Plus the 10% deductible for my surgeries and reconstructions. My debt is not substantial enough to declare bankruptcy. Especially since part of the reason I want to clear up my debt is to be able to improve my credit so that certain financial avenues are not closed for me. I am 42, I do not want to be banned from borrowing until I'm 50. I am at the point when I have to start thinking of my daughter's college tuition. Plus, career wise it can hurt me to have bankruptcy in my financial background. My issue is emotional. This weighing heavy on me and is having a paralizing affect. I need guidance. Help...

Dx 7/2013, DCIS, Right, 6cm+, Stage 0, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR- Dx 8/2013, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Surgery 8/4/2013 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy 9/11/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/11/2013 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Nov 8, 2018 07:46PM LovefromPhilly wrote:

I hear ya!

Have you looked into this woman’s advice?

https://www.suzeorman.com/

With Love From Philly Dx 3/25/2017, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy 4/5/2017 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy Ibrance (palbociclib)
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Nov 8, 2018 09:49PM FarAwayToo wrote:

Sounds like you just need someone to go through those bills for you, put them on a spreadsheet and come up with steps to resolve the situation. I would say they should be small steps, so that you can do something to conquer the situation every day, but only spend 15 minutes or so.

I would love to be the person to help you. I'm not a financial adviser or have any financial background, but I am good with my own finances. When I was going through treatment, I thought this could be a way for me to give back/pay it forward. If you think I can help you with this, being very far away physically, PM me.

Dx 8/31/2017, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 9/15/2017, DCIS, Left, 3cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 9/29/2017 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxol (paclitaxel) Hormonal Therapy 2/23/2018 Zoladex (goserelin) Surgery 2/28/2018 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 2/28/2018 Mastectomy: Left, Right Hormonal Therapy 4/5/2018 Femara (letrozole) Surgery 8/21/2018 Prophylactic ovary removal; Reconstruction (left): Saline implant; Reconstruction (right): Saline implant
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Nov 17, 2018 06:10PM Trvler wrote:

I can help, too. I can help you run a credit report. You get one for free annually. I am also good at setting up spreadsheets. Used to be a financial analyst. PM me if you are interested.

Allison Dx 1/16/2015, ILC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2/26/2015, ILC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 2/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 3/23/2015 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 8/31/2015 Mastectomy; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Radiation Therapy 10/14/2015 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 12/31/2015
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Nov 17, 2018 06:11PM Trvler wrote:

I can also help you negotiate. I am very good at that.

Allison Dx 1/16/2015, ILC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2/26/2015, ILC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 2/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 3/23/2015 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 8/31/2015 Mastectomy; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Radiation Therapy 10/14/2015 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 12/31/2015

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