Less Money, Mo Problems: Cancer is Expensive

Hey y’all,

There’s no way to prepare for a cancer diagnosis.  Mentally, physically, financially.  I will add this certainly as a young person who feels like nothing can break her/him, they are in the prime time to build on who they are and their experience, and attempt to be as carefree as possible before cancer comes in stirring up trouble.  It’s especially tough for someone who has an already tight budget due to whatever circumstances (we all know what that looks and feels like).  Well, lemme just say, major health issues can surely run up your nerves, stress, and debt.

We often hear about our healthcare system thrown around in the political atmosphere.  Universal healthcare debates and funding and subsidizing and privatizing and restricting and etc, etc, etc.  Now, I’ve been getting minimal healthcare services all my life and have seen my family weave in and throughout the system.  And now, I’m as much involved in it as the rest of my family.  This is ironic when it was kind of a goal for me not to have to take as much medicine as my family does and to make sure I stay on top of my health (black folks, y’all know how we can do). I’ve been to over 28 appointments since March 28th and the bulk of those appointments occurred in the last 2 months.  I don’t mind it because I want to get my treatment, but man, do expenses rack up especially being out of work over the summer.

For this post, I want to touch on a topic that affects many who have to work their way through the healthcare system as they are on their journey for treatment and ways to help them.  Whether that be preventative care, insurance claims, payment plans, emergency services, minor surgeries, major surgeries, money comes into play.  I just want to break down how expensive this stuff can be.

Keep in mind I have insurance and so the expenses I’m about to share with you were for the most part covered (Praise God), but as a patient, you are still required to pay a certain percentage before insurance will cover 100%.  Keep in mind that at a hospital, you have expenses for your physicians(which from what I can tell includes office visits, testing, lab work, pathology results, procedures)  as well as for hospital(surgery related, nursing staff, etc). My medical coding friends, don’t quote me lol. Brace yourselves, y’all, here are some of my major expenses:

Visit in March for an Ultrasound, Last Minute Needle Biopsy, and Testing: $10,834.00+

Double Mastectomy + Immediate Reconstruction: $69,992.92 (number doesn’t include anesthesia, implants, etc) Yeah…I about choked on that number, too.

Lymph Node Removal, Testing, and Implants: $12,000+

Yeah, that’s just a few of the numbers stringed together on my billing sheets.  Some covered, some not covered, some partially covered.  A lot more where that came from.  You may think, “woooooo Lord!” And yeah, lol.  Again, I’m glad I had insurance. Without insurance, my payments would be astronomical.  For those who don’t have insurance, there are thankfully programs in place to assist but they must still take on a lot of their expenses.  For example, I had a visit with UNC Fertility to discuss some preventative options and while I didn’t pursue those, I would have been able to get those associated costs reduced since my insurance doesn’t cover fertility preservation related to cancer. Keep in mind the 40% discount they offered to uninsured still put me at $3,000+ out of pocket. Similar programs exists for patients who need to stay or travel to their cancer center, etc.  I’m not sure about programs (other than federal) that help cover costs from not being able to work and paying for treatment etc.

So this is where my financial planning has helped me with a safety net for this summer.  My summer job was meant to help supplement but I couldn’t work with it considering all of my appointments and time off needed for recovery.  I have had to instead use my savings to cover my expenses this summer. I don’t regret it, but I am counting down until I can get my paycheck as a teacher.  And that’s where I am reaching out to people who have asked, “what can I do to help?”

I know that we all have our circumstances and limitations and so I say these next few statements with knowing that, I don’t always ask for help, but now, I know I need it and any I can get.  I have greatly limited the leisure activities I usually do for the summer and instead have spent most of my time at home while I use my savings and credit cards for my bills and necessary expenses.  The trip I went on to NOLA was thankfully free, my friends/family have treated me to food/dinner/place to stay and some occasional outings(I thank God for them).  I think (hope and pray because I don’t have disability insurance) that I can make it until the end of next month when I’ll hopefully return to work and get paid.

But, for all those asking, ” how can I help,” what would be a God send for me is financial help.  It doesn’t have to be hard cash(although that is welcome) but a gift card for gas, a grocery store, the occasional movie or a restaurant would help.  Those are things that help me tremendously on top of your love and prayers.  I have always been hesitant to ask for help in my life, no matter the circumstance, but now I am asking.

Whether it be me or someone else you know who has a lot of medical expenses, your generosity in prayers, love, and support means so much.

I thank you for reading another one of my long posts. 🙂

Twizzlers and truths,

Christina

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