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What should i do?

mc1717's picture
Posts: 21
Joined: Sep 2008

Hi everyone,

I have a BIG dilema. I am scheduled for surgery for my rectal tumor on 12/30/08. During recovery, my full time job will have me on short term disabilty for up to six months. This is good news you would think. But on the flip side I have a part time job that I earn about $1,000 a month. While I am on short term disabilty I can not work at my part time job, even if Dr says it is ok. So for at least a few months I will be loosing $1,000 a month. Now more bad news: financialy I am in bad shape. Real estate taxes have gone up alot, gas bill has gone up. Every monthly expense has gone up. Right now working two jobs I have to take at least $500 out of my savings just to cover my bills and hope to have enough left to buy food for my family. Right now I don't eat breakfast or lunch in order to save money. Wife also works by the way. January starts a new period for my health insurance, which means a new $2000 deductable will need to be paid during my recovery and next round of chemo. Based on the above situation I will be totaly out of money by February or March. I took out a loan from my 401k I took out back in August when I first got diagnosed.

Here is my question or thoughts: What if I postponed my surgery for at least a year. If I did this I would be able to keep working both jobs and can also work on cutting some monthly expenses. Perhaps put my nice cozy house up for sale and by a small cheap 1 bedroom shack somewhere. I would also have time and energy to perhaps file for bankruptcy.

Another thing that is not a good thought, I am worth more dead than alive. I have $350,000 in life insurance right now. That would really help my wife to stop worrying about if we are going to loose our house.

i just don't know what to do. I think dealing with cancer will be easier than dealing with this financial mess I am in. Perhaps I am being selfish or maybe internal stress is causing me to have these thoughts. All I know is right now life SUCKS.


Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

Government job...good pay...job security...almost 6 figures...boom diagnosed with cancer in March..even with insurance it took all my savings and all of my sick and vacation leave and still had 6 months of post op chemo to go through and thinking that I was not going to be allowed to come back to work like this . I was looking at having to come up with about 7k each month to pay expenses. Yep, you guessed it, things were going to be sold. I even thought how much I was worth dead to assure that my family would be taken care of, then it hit me. My family will be devastated if I were to take my own life. I am strong enough to let the material things in life go to protect my family. I was to Chicken chit to take my own life anyway but the thought was there. This beast has a way of completely taking over your life, and its not just the cancer itself but the financial burden that it puts on the family as well. I to am looking at a new 4k deductible coming up in January and I haven't paid all of these yet. I was lucky enough to be allowed to come back to work and work around the treatments and was also donated 400 hours of leave from my co-workers. God took care of me, he will you also if you'll let him. Talk to him, you have nothing to lose by doing so...God Bless ya bud. I know what your going through.

But...don't put your surgery off....but its your choice......

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

I had to work as much as I could during my surgery/treatments, etc. I had my rectum and sig colon removed. I was in the hospital for 8 days, recovered for about a month, and then started back to light work. I have a computer consulting business.

Cancer doesn't stop. That's the trouble. If the surgery is for removal of cancer, well, waiting a year may jump it into metastatic. THAT would be AWFUL!!!

I know it's a mess. I wish I had all the answers. I'll let the thoughts go thru the night.

Hugs, Kathi

Posts: 210
Joined: Aug 2008

First of all. are you sure you will need to be on the short term disability for 6 months? Are you assuming you are going to be ill because of chemo, or are you planning months for surgery recovery only? because not everyone is ill during that time.. many people are able to work during that time.. also, try to find all the resources avail to you..heating assistance,..etc.. most cancer centers have grants you can apply for to help with medical expenses during cancer treatment. Maybe you will be lucky and someone will put on a benefit for you. Our local fire dept put on a benefit that earned me 15,000 and my co-workers put on a bake sale benefit that drew in another $1500- which helps tremendously. Good luck to you.. hopefully your recovery will be fast..but please don't put off surgery for your own health.

msccolon's picture
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

That is just WRONG!!!!! You shouldn't have to be worrying about that right now. You have to focus your strength on getting better, so your family will have you around for a long time to come! Don't put off having the surgery. Speak with the hospital, surgeon, oncologist, etc about your situation and see what they can work out for you. See if your part time job can work something out as well. You'd be surprised what some people are willing to do, when asked, to help. If you are considering bankruptcy, your attorney would handle the hard stuff, I am sure ... Know that you aren't alone. There are advocates out there. Speak to someone at the American Cancer Society in your area, or online. If you were to die, the bills that need to be paid will be the LAST thing your family will be concerned about so don't even think about that as a good solution. You need to focus your thoughts and energy on fighting the cancer! I know that sounds hard, but perhaps you need to speak to a therapist; they can help you deal with all this stress. Good luck, man. You are tough and you will get through.

When I was first diagnosed, my husband had just left me with a 1600/month mortgage payment on top of all my other bills. Of course the house went on the market immediately, but it took over a year to sell! All this time i was in surgery, recovering from surgery, undergoing chemotherapy, and dealing with the stress of an unpleasant divorce and an uncooperative ex (whined about not making enough money to meet his own needs, let alone mine). Somehow I was able to pay all the bills and the house finally sold (in fact we closed on the Monday following my last chemo treatment at that time!) It cost us each over 6000 to sell it at a loss, but not having that huge mortgage was a blessing! My daughter and I moved into a small home for a while to try and build back up some money. I was able to recover and buy myself a small house; one that meets my needs perfectly! Of course, now I am facing the end of my health insurance end of january and this will require some hard decisions. I will make them, though, because being here for my girls is what is most important. Remember that, your family is what is important here and they would be devastated if they knew you were thinking that insurance policy on your life was more important than you are.

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi MC,

You have a lot to digest at the moment. Financial difficulties are temporary but death is final. And for what. Money comes and goes. How does one put a price on life? Cancer sucks but it does NOT have to be your death sentence.

You are blessed to HAVE a savings to draw from. You are blessed to HAVE a 401K to borrow from.

We had nothing but our (hobby) farm. No savings. No 401K. 5 kids. Support-raising missionaries. I chose to not do insurance supported chemo and instead every thing I did came out of my own pocket. Can you say Credit Cards? After our Home Equity was eaten up we sold the farm and moved to a little log cabin (thankfully not a shack)in the north woods. Hubby got a job at a hospital so all my local tests are "free". For any others I go on payment plans. Clinics and hospitals will work with you and determine if you need help in paying.

Can your community do some kind of fundraiser? Any church connections? Family?

I had no disability to use. I had to continue to work from home for the ministry. Life goes on.

But what I did do was count my blessings and jump at opportunities..ie..moving, getting out of ministry and into a better job.

And now I feel more blessed than ever.

I hope you can focus your energy on healing and restoring your life. And take care of that tumor now before it takes care of you.

peace, emily

Monicaemilia's picture
Posts: 455
Joined: Nov 2006

I know what you are going through, been there, done that, still going through it. One of my big issues is that I only have a $40,000 insurance policy, which really works into my guilt. But all that being said and done, my family decided to help me by holding a couple of fundraisers that helped tremendously. People are so generous and kind, all you need to do is ask for help. I also agree with one of the posts that said you might not need 6 months to recoup. I have had 4 major surgeries, and I was up and about within a few weeks. Yes, light duties at first, but generally doing well after that.

I am currently fighting metastic CRC that spread to the liver, lungs and bone. As Emily said, you cannot put a price on life, or the message you leave for your kids as they grow up. I have a three year old and he is the basis of almost every decision I make regarding my health.

Please don't postpone surgery. You are absolutely curable, and when you are well, you can go back to working 2/3/4 jobs if you want and you will be able to recoup your losses. But meanwhile, fight, fight, fight....Monica

kimby's picture
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

Call your mortgage company and see if they can help work something out with you due to your current situation. Many are now willing to negotiate with the economy the way it is. Sell anything you can. Deductible? You won't need to pay much for quite awhile as they will work with you on that. No one is worried about your $2000 as long as insurance is paying the rest. Let your car be repossessed if necessary, but please don't postpone treatment! This is your LIFE...fight for it. File bankruptcy now if need be and walk away from everything. You can start over financially. You will never be able to start over with your life. Your family needs you alive. You need you alive.


tootsie1's picture
Posts: 5065
Joined: Feb 2008

I know it seems hopeless right now, but some of the earlier posters have given you some good advice. Please check out those avenues (or have someone help you do that). Whatever you do, do NOT postpone your surgery. That would be a disaster. And I am positive that your family would much rather have you than any THING they own.


Posts: 56
Joined: Mar 2008

My husband had surgery a year ago tomorrow for stage3 colon cancer. We have insurance,and we both work, and have 3 kids. Yes there were co-pays and tons of meds for the side effects, but I would have paid double and triple, you cannot put a dollar amount on life. I would have sold my home if I had to in order to give him the care and chemo he needed. My husband worked all through Chemo. There were days he did stay home sick, or worked from home (he was lucky to have that option). But I really think it kept his mind busy than just thinking about the cancer~and it helped time pass. Don't ever think you are worth more dead or your family would be better off. Money will come and go, but memories and family lasts a life-time. Don't put off the surgery. Take care of it now. There is never a good time for surgery and chemo....so do it now so it does not spread.

Posts: 160
Joined: Nov 2007


I haven't been in your shoes, but I've been close. When I was dx'd, I didn't have insurance, was in school, and wasn't working. I was dx'd Stage iv and didn't know if I'd even be able to get treatment. Through God's grace, charity, and lots of wonderful people, I'm still here and NED. I understand about the surgery, because I'm having a resection on the 12th to take out the place where my cancer started. Even though I'm NED, my oncologist thinks it's important to take care of this. So, between all the pre-stuff and the surgery, I'm looking at around $4,000, which will take the last of my reserves. But, I don't want to take the chance that this might make the difference for me. So I really do understand, but please don't put off your surgery.

The Colon Cancer Alliance is an advocacy group that gave me some good ideas and were willing to do three-way calls if I needed help in dealing with hospitals, social workers, etc. They suggested I contact my mortgage company and explain my situation; sometimes they will let you do interest-only payments for a while. They also suggested I contact my utility companies, because they usually have assistance programs. I know it's hard and it stinks to have to fight cancer and worry about bills and making ends meet at the same time. But please hold on--you're worth it and you are so much more important than money. Good luck and I'll add you to my prayers.


Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I also wanted to add that I was released in 5 weeks to go back to work and was off all restrictions.

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007


Right now, your world as you know it is upside down and sideways... and let's not forget about the fear, stress, possible anger and frustration that this is something you don't have control over at the moment. There is no doubt that this whole situation is HUGE in your life... probably the biggest thing you will ever have to deal with!! But, right now, this very minute, you can only see the walls of the trap you feel you are in.

So, for a few minutes take yourself out of the trap and out of the fear of what the future is going to hold for you. Visualize that you have to rearrange your life as you know it and what changes you feel you need to make. What would be the IDEAL situation (this is a situation that very few of us actually accomplish but we all have an IDEAL situation that we'd like to be in). Compare your life before DX and were you even close to the IDEAL situation? Probably not, but it didn't worry you... you just went on doing the daily things you had to do, faced the stress you had to face, were there for your family and life went on.

Now that life has been shaken up BIG time and, without being negative, I can pretty much guarantee that your new "normal" is never going to be the same as the "normal" that you were used to. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a reality.

The others who have posted here have had some very good ideas about how to get help throughout this time period. The only thing that really stops one from reaching out is "Pride". Now THAT I can relate to!! No matter how much I could use help with something, it's incredibly hard for me to reach out and say, "Could you help me with this?" A good example of this (and it was a really small thing), when I had to go to this hospital to meet the interventional radiologist, it was in a city about an hour from me that I did not know well. I didn't really even know where this hospital was, where I could park close by (I can't walk long distances) or how I was going to get around. I finally asked a friend of mine who lives in this city if she could give me explicit directions because I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Well, not only did she give me directions, she gave me directions to her office which was kitty-corner to the hospital. She got a parking space in the underground parking of her office for me so parking didn't cost me a penny. And then she walked over to the hospital with me and walked me to the Medical Imaging dept. She went back to work while I was having the scan, but came back at 4:30pm to go to the appt. with the radiologist with me as a second set of ears.

I realize this is a small thing compared to what you have to figure out, but it is a good example of, by reaching out and asking for help, people are more than willing to step in and take you under their wing and what was huge and overwhelming just evaporates.

Should you not have the surgery and take your chances that you will be dead by next year?? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Should you take your own life so that your family will be comfortable financially. ABSOLUTELY NOT (besides, most life insurance policies become null and void if death is by suicide). Would this help your family?? NO! I don't know any family who has lost one of their loved ones (Mom, Dad, or child) who has ever felt that that was sure worth it because now they are financially comfortable. And for those who have lost a loved one thru suicide, after the sadness of the death wears off, what is left is anger. This is not the legacy you want to leave your children... that they are angry for the rest of their lives, to the point where it affects what kind of parents they will be, if they'll even be parents.

The financial stuff is a burden... but as others have said, it comes and goes. Declare bankruptcy so that you can throw this burden away. And we want to hear that your scheduled surgery goes on as planned. Leaving it for a year IS suicide :/



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