A cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming as people often don't know what to expect as they prepare to manage their situation. Now consider Sandy Dalton, who had to come to terms not just with her cancer but with something else almost as daunting: the costs of treatment. It's a story I've heard far too many times.
Sandy's surgeon warned that even with her health insurance, she might pay $100,000 out of pocket. She had just switched to a "skinny plan" with minimal coverage. "This insurance is probably not the best choice, but I never thought I would have cancer," Sandy explains. Now, she is paying the price.
When facing cancer, many cannot afford to focus solely on their health; they must also confront the financial costs associated with their diagnosis. These costs create true financial hardship and emotional burdens for people living with cancer, cancer survivors and caregivers.
HealthyWomen's collaboration with CancerCare, the leading national nonprofit organization providing free support services to anyone affected by cancer, will shine a light on how costs amplify the challenges of cancer and offer support to people who are suffering. Our nationwide study reveals some harsh realities: Many people with cancer experience stress, are forced to adjust their lives, and even put off the care they need to cope with their diagnosis simply because they cannot afford it.
"A cancer diagnosis turns a person's world upside down — emotionally, physically and financially," says Christine Verini, Chief Operating Officer of CancerCare. "Choosing between lifesaving treatments and paying bills is a choice no one should have to make."
Everyone recognizes that people living with cancer manage these burdens, but what many don't realize is that caregivers do, too. Janet Meadows Harris couldn't have imagined getting two cancer diagnoses in one day until it happened in her family. Days before Christmas 2019, her husband, Alonzo, was diagnosed with prostate and liver cancer.
When Alonzo underwent aggressive radiation treatment on his liver, Harris became his primary caregiver. As she tells us, "Nobody wants to hear how bad it is. This caregiving thing is not for the faint of heart. You give out emotionally, mentally … physically … it takes a toll."
At HealthyWomen and CancerCare, we are committed to supporting women — and the people who love them — with information and tools, so they are better positioned to address the difficulties and reduce the barriers to necessary care that arise from those costs.
In good health,
This resource was created with support from Amgen and Daiichi Sankyo.