A turbulent sea of bills and letters crash over a sinking house in a dark storm.

Cancer Can Cripple a Family Financially

Last updated: March 2021

Nothing can tear apart or completely destroy the family unit like a cancer diagnosis. Many families are already struggling to make ends meet during these terrible times in our country.

Add on top of all that those everyday worries and concerns trying to figure out a way to pay for the numerous doctor expenses related to cancer treatment. There are few illnesses that can tally up more quickly ghastly medical bills.

Outrageous costs

Our family received a quick and callous education on the outrageous costs of fighting cancer. Immediately following my prostate biopsies, my urological oncologist questioned me amusingly, “Do you want to hold $21,000 in your hands?”

He was speaking about my first Lupron shot needed to effectively fight my advanced prostate cancer with extensive bone metastasis stage 4. The physician jokingly held out the syringe as if he really expected me to take hold of the high-priced medicine. I did not dare take hold of the syringe.

Cancer indeed carries an immensely high price tag for the family afflicted. Bone scans, PET scans, CT scans, radiological visits, hormone shots, chemotherapy, blood work, palliative care, office visits, medi-ports, pain pumps, surgeries all form just a tiny portion of the overall treatments and items that can become necessary for the average cancer patient.

The price tag of prescriptions

No, I did not forget the numerous medical prescriptions that accompany a cancer diagnosis. This single aspect of your cancer treatment plan can be enough to bankrupt an unsuspecting family. I struggle to see how anyone without insurance can financially survive a dreaded cancer diagnosis.

It never ceased to astound me, as I sit and work my way through all the medical bills, how quickly the total climbs, not by the thousands but by the tens of thousands of dollars.

My prescription bills last year alone totaled over $148,000 without even taking into consideration all the other components of my cancer treatment plan.

Depression and arguments

Depression is one very real side effect of cancer treatment. A great amount of stress and depression for a cancer-ridden family arises from the anxiety caused by the numerous medical bills that continually flood the mailbox. Not only can these endless bills cause depression, they can cause an overload of grief and hostility within the family unit.

Personally, I have mentally caught our family arguing over these relentless medical invoices. A family can quickly move from a simple conversation about how to deal with these billing statements straight into a full-blown argument.

It can all be overwhelming to a family that has great insurance coverage. I imagine it could be devastating to the family with few financial resources and no medical insurance.

Getting additional resources

Luckily, our family was blessed with a wonderful and caring community that went above and beyond to ensure we had additional resources to aid us in the fight against cancer. Our neighbors and friends raised critical funds quickly through highly-organized fundraising events and activities. Churches and religious members of our close-knit community were quick to offer much-needed financial assistance along with tons of prayers, prayer cloths, prayer chains, and family visits.

I would quickly counsel families to remember that many hospitals and medical organizations work with foundations to provide assistance to families of cancer patients. One such foundation helped our family when my medical insurance decided to stop covering my main chemotherapy pill, Zytiga. Any who rely upon Zytiga can vouch for the outrageous cost connected with this treatment.

Pills costing in the thousands

Zytiga is an oral chemo pill that I take to followup with my regular taxotere infusions. This single medical pill vastly improved my life during my cancer journey. The one drawback was the astronomical cost of the pills: $13,820 a month. That’s right, a month, not a year. It is a treatment I simply cannot afford to be without, but one I simply cannot afford without some assistance.

Our hospital’s pharmacy was quick to inform us of the help one of their generous foundations could provide our family. Without this help, I would be at the mercy of my prostate cancer.

Preparing for financial hardship

Cancer families should take valuable time to sit down and openly discuss all the financial concerns that come with that crippling diagnosis. Write letters and make calls to any business or foundation that could possibly provide much-needed support.

Do not feel ashamed, this is a crucial matter of life and death.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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