Cancer and Careers has fielded calls from patients, survivors, caregivers, and healthcare professionals around the country, looking for advice on the many fears inspired by the pandemic. One in particular continues to be a recurring theme: financial worries.
The topic of money and the impact of cancer on one’s financial wellbeing has gradually become a much more common topic of conversation. Financial toxicity is the negative impact medical expenses can have on patients in terms of their health, quality of life, mental, and physical effects. As the financial side of cancer is researched and explored, the negative monetary impact becomes more evident.
With that said, the compounding effect of cancer and the economic downfall due to the pandemic has many worried. An article on Mic.com provides guidance on how to pay bills that piled up during the pandemic. Many of the approaches mirror best practices for the planning that goes into managing a cancer diagnosis:
- Collect Yourself. Nothing has ever been made easier with a racing heart or mind. So, step one is always taking a deep breath, a step back, and centering yourself before approaching the process of problem-solving. Whether you’re figuring out how to pay your credit card bill that is four months late, or you’re trying to think through how to disclose your cancer diagnosis at work, collect yourself and clear your mind before making any decisions.
- Get a clearer picture of your situation. So often when we are evaluating a problem, we see it as a mountain to climb, versus a series of small inclines that lead to the top. Breaking your problem down into smaller parts will allow you to get a better idea of how to address the bigger issue piece by piece. In this case, ask and answer a series of questions: Who do I owe? What do I owe? When is/was it due?
- Prioritize. When cancer patients and survivors reach out to CAC for guidance on their work situation, we often encourage making a list of priorities. What needs to be addressed first? How do you assess what is most important to tackle initially? The same goes for financial challenges. If you are two months behind on rent but know your landlord is sympathetic but you received a letter that your electricity is at risk of being shut off, it might be more important to contact your electric company first.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Much like the ways patients and survivors should be creative when requesting accommodations in the workplace, get creative about how to approach your financial challenges. As the article mentions, propose ideas that are feasible for you in the moment and see if the financial institution is amenable. As with so many scenarios in which you’re asking for something, the worst they can say is no. And if the answer is no, just go back to the drawing board.
Are you struggling to address a worrisome financial situation after cancer and the pandemic? Look at some of the resources in the Legal & Financial section of our website. It’s never to late to implement healthy financial management strategies!