A diagnosis of breast cancer can derail even the best financial planning. If setting up a long range economic plan for your future has been on your to-do list for the last decade or so, a breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating.
Regardless of the current state of your finances, there are several steps you can take right now to protect yourself and survive in one piece.
If you work, there's a good chance you will reduce your working hours or suspend them altogether during treatment. Medical expenses will increase, and you need to be proactive. If your income is necessary for your support and/or your family's support, you must address the situation immediately. Doing so will help you maintain a sense of control over your financial well being.
Creating a budget is the first step to getting a handle on where you stand financially. Listing all your monthly expenses gives you a foundation from which to plan. Listing your expenses will help you see where you might be able to cut expenses. It will also assist you to prioritize your bills and determine if you will need additional funds to meet your obligations.
Be honest with your creditors if you are having trouble paying your bills. Tell them why you are having trouble meeting your obligations, and try to work out a reduced payment plan. Do everything you can to make a payment on your accounts every month, as this will show your creditors you are acting in good faith.
Credit counselors and social workers are trained professionals who can assist you in creating a workable budget. They can also help you find government and nonprofit agencies that may be available to offer assistance. Qualified credit counselors can be found through organizations such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, and social workers can often be located through your local hospital or cancer center.
The United Way and The American Cancer Society may be able to direct you to agencies or nonprofit groups in your area that can help.
Be creative in your search. Many religious groups and community centers have volunteers available to help with things such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, light household cleaning and maintenance, etc. The fact that volunteers provide the services means that you do not have to pay for them. This can help you lower the cost of temporary assistance during your recovery.
Friends and family can sometimes lend a helping hand. No one likes to ask for this kind of help, but by the same token, many people are in a position to help when it comes to financial matters, and are more than willing to do so.
When you are faced with money problems, it's so easy to slip into a place of self-recrimination and despair. The important thing to remember, however, is that you have just been knocked down with a serious medical condition. In no way is that a reflection on your worth as a human being or your ability to maintain your financial affairs under normal circumstances.