Common side effects of cancer treatment include nausea, hair loss, pain, and fatigue. However, the potential impact of the financial costs of care on the patient and their family—also referred to as financial toxicity—is a greatly under-appreciated, hidden “side-effect” that sets-in at the worst possible time. According to a recent study, nearly 80% of women experience financial stress during breast cancer treatment.
Fortunately, there are many resources dedicated to making cancer treatment more affordable. Here are some helpful tips for coping and managing financial stress during and after a cancer diagnosis:
Say “yes” if friends or family offer to help. They can help you with paperwork, analyzing and paying bills, checking out your insurance, and gathering information about payment plans. If possible, bring someone who is helping you with your financial responsibilities, and have them ask lots of questions. Also, remember, family and friends often want to help, but often don’t know exactly how. Consider delegating anything you feel comfortable delegating, even in part, to take some of the weight off your shoulders.
There are many organizations that can help with expenses related to medical treatment, food, dental care, everyday living, legal resources, and more. Reach out to your HR department at work, or a hospital financial adviser for insight on how to get the most out of your insurance, including help with deductibles and co-pays.
Many national and local breast cancer organizations provide financial assistance to patients (and their families) to help decrease financial stress during breast cancer treatment. Ask your health care team if they have any recommendations. Other patients you meet can also be a very valuable resource for information on organizations they have found helpful themselves.
It’s important to be aware of upfront and out-of-pocket costs when discussing treatment options with your medical team. Your team may be a able to tailor your treatment in a more cost-effective way without negatively impacting your care. Knowing more about the costs that lie ahead is also very important so you can plan and budget accordingly.
There are many reputable organizations that can help you and your family after a breast cancer diagnosis. To access them, download the Breast Advocate App free here. Click on “Knowledge Center” and then “Resources”. There you will find links to organizations that can provide assistance in many ways, including financial:
Please also let us know of any organizations that you have found helpful. We are constantly adding reputable resources and would love to hear your recommendations!