Planning for your future with Breast Cancer
A few days ago, my spouse and I met with our financial advisor. At one point, as we discussed an update to our long-term plan, she said to my spouse, "I hope you like your job," meaning that he shouldn't plan on retiring for a very, very long time.
You see, while we live more comfortably than many people, we are feeling a squeeze caused by my unplanned drop in income. I have disability insurance but it is a fraction of the wage I was making when I went off work, will never increase and is not indexed to inflation. I am so relieved, however, that I did have this insurance, as treatment continues to prevent me from working. I feel very fortunate.
I had this insurance because it is part of the benefits package provided by my employer. Had I been self-employed, I doubt I would have had the foresight to protect myself in this way. I have always been incredibly disorganized about my finances and, like many younger people, I never felt any particular urgency about getting this aspect of my life in order.
We had just begun to see our financial advisor when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, she had advised us to get life insurance and set up the medical exams we needed to move the process forward. I was feeling pretty smug about my exam results, since I had just lost a bunch of weight, and was running regularly.
Then, one evening as I undressed, I felt a large hard lump on the side of my right breast.
I saw my doctor the next day.
The day after that my insurance medical forms landed on her desk. She told the insurance company about the lump.
I was turned down for life insurance.
A few weeks after that, my spouse and I discovered that while he had signed the forms to provide us with mortgage insurance, I had not. When I die, there will be no mortgage relief for my spouse.
Now, I realize that we are still a very privileged family. The house we bought in 1998 has appreciated in value. We have very supportive family and friends, a middle class income and the luxury of living in a country with universal health care.
But a little advance planning on my part would have saved my spouse and me a lot of worry and provided security for the time when my family's income drops yet further.
When we first started to meet with our financial planner, our goal was to plan for retirement and ensure that our kids would be able to go on to post-secondary education. Now, we hope to provide our children with as much security as possible. Retirement does not really seem like it will be an option for either of us.
None of us likes to think about getting sick or dying. And no parent wants to think about dying while their children are still young. But planning for this eventuality can protect those we love from a lot of stress and hardship.
You can read more of my writing at Not Just About Cancer.