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How Assistance Discriminates Against Cancer Patients: Editorial

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Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

Recent research, which took place over a period of 14 years and utilized two irrefutable government sources for its statistical information, was presented at the 2011 annual meeting of The American Society of Clinical Oncology.

This research used both the cancer registry statistics as well as the U.S. bankruptcy court records and involved nearly a quarter of a million cancer survivors.

The results: that bankruptcy rates among cancer survivors at one year after diagnosis was nearly twice as high as that of the general population. On average, bankruptcy rates increased four-fold within the five year period after diagnosis.

The average percentage of those with cancer having to file bankrutpcy was 8 percent, when compared to the general population in which the average bankruptcy filing percentage is 0.28. This is obviously a huge difference and one that cannot be ignored.

The U.S. bankruptcy laws changed dramatically in 2005 making it more difficult for an individual to file for bankruptcy. The filing of a bankruptcy was an action which was intended to give an individual a “clean slate” however when it comes to cancer survivors it is anything but.

Based upon this research, cancer patients who have struggled through horrific treatments in order to survive now face yet more stress and hardship from a financial standpoint. Is it reasonable to penalize cancer survivors simply for having survived? Yet this is exactly what happens when a cancer survivor must file bankruptcy.

Federal and state programs (First Time Homebuyer Assistance) which exist to assist lower-income families in obtaining a home, by providing funds for downpayments as well as closing costs, stipulate that a bankruptcy must have been discharged (finalized by the bankruptcy court and all debts absolved) a full two years before an individual can even submit an application for assistance.

There are many financial hardships which cancer patients/survivors endure, one of which may be the loss of their jobs and their homes.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.