The tests have been run, the results are in, and your doctor just told you the five words no one wants to hear: “I’m sorry, you have cancer.”
With that one sentence, you have just joined the approximately 1.7 million people who are diagnosed with cancer every year.
In addition to going through treatment, you may be wondering what life will be like for you now that you are navigating this new normal. From needing support from friends to worrying about finances, you probably have more questions than answers. With this in mind, the following guide can help you navigate life after your cancer diagnosis:
Budgeting Healthcare Expenses
As soon as you are able, you should call your health insurance company. While your oncologist’s staff may be able to get information for you about your policy and what your deductible is, it’s good to get those facts and figures on your own as well. As AARP notes, average costs for treatment can run in the $150,000 range, so it’s very important to know what your insurance will cover and if there’s anything it will not. Ideally, everything will be taken care of by your insurance, but if there’s a large deductible to be met first or your oncologist is suggesting a treatment that is not fully covered, you may want to look into some options to fill up your savings account very quickly.
For instance, if you have a life insurance policy, you may be able to sell it to a licensed life settlement provider. If this tip has you thinking “Wait a minute, I can sell my life insurance? How does that work?” Coventry Direct has helpful information on their site that explains how people can sell a life insurance policy to access the funds now, when you need them most. Coventry Direct can also determine whether you qualify to sell your life insurance policy. Depending on what info you get from your health insurance company, this may be a prudent decision that helps set your mind at ease.
Look for Emotional and Moral Support
Ideally, you should get all sort of helpful emotional support from your BFF, your closest family members, and pretty much anyone who hears you have been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, notes Livestrong.org, those who are closest to you may be so worried about your diagnosis and treatment, they may not be sure what to say. Others may also pass on incorrect info and myths about cancer, including their opinion on what medical path you should follow. While you will hopefully find at least a few close friends who will be your “rocks” during this time, you may also want to look into other options for moral support. This can be an oncology social worker at the cancer center or a cancer support group that will offer you a safe place to share your experiences with others who are in the same boat.
Thinking About Work
To keep life as normal as you can during the treatment phase, you may want to continue working. While some people can continue to work, others may need to take some time off — it all depends on your overall health, what type of cancer you have and what your treatment will entail, as well as what your job is like. A lot of times, it depends on how you are feeling during treatment as well as when those appointments are scheduled. If you can do them later on in the day or maybe on Friday you may find that you can maintain a fairly normal work schedule. Of course, your oncologist can advise you as well as to what you can expect, and you may be able to work with your boss to come up with a part-time work plan or the chance to telecommute at least part of the time.
This Will Be a Bump in the Road
Hearing those five words is scary, but you have what it takes to get through this. By being proactive with your finances and insurance, doing what it takes to get a solid support group and talking with your boss about work — along with going through treatment — your cancer diagnosis will be a bump in the road rather than a major road block to health and happiness.