Living with a chronic illness, such as cancer, can be a disrupting force in your life. Besides the physical aspects of the illness, from coping with treatment side effects to being limited in your abilities or independence, there are also numerous social complexities that can make managing difficult and everyday life more stressful.
Your illness may make working an impossibility, which may cause financial problems or add to the stress of paying for treatment. For some patients, the financial burden is apparent at diagnosis, while for others, it builds up over the course of years of treatment.
You may also feel alone while dealing with the hurdles of treatment, testing and doctor visits. Experience has taught you that your body post-treatment is different than you were prior to the diagnosis, but nobody said anything about that. Right now, feeling overwhelmed might be described as an understatement. But where do you look for help?
First, it is notable to point out that you are not alone. Nearly one in two (133 million) Americans live with chronic medical conditions of one type or another, so finding others with whom you can share information can be extremely helpful in not only knowing what to expect in the future while dealing with the present, but also knowing the right questions to ask your health providers.
Still, matters of the pocketbook are often the most stressful, and it is not unusual for patients to feel embarrassed to discuss financial issues. However it is important to reach out before the illness becomes a tremendous financial crisis, said Jane Levy, director of Patient Assistance Programs for CancerCare, a national patient advocacy and support organization.
There are a number of government, nonprofit and private resources available, and many have people available right now to help you sort through your options. It can be as easy as picking up the phone or visiting their website.
If you are low income, you may want to start with a visit to the Medicaid website. Medicaid provides health insurance for low-income individuals and families who meet its requirements.