Broke: The Cost of Breast Cancer

The real cost of having breast cancer — any cancer — is perhaps incalculable. And there is no doubt that having cancer changes your life forever, emotionally and physically. But the financial impact can last long after acute treatment is done, changing your life in ways you could never anticipate.

I am hoping that this post will be the first of a number of them to examine various aspects of these costs — the obvious ones and the hidden ones. The purpose of this post is to start the discussion, starting with a look at how much cancer has cost me personally, and expanding it, here and in future posts, to look at how it can affect any of us, as individuals and as members of society as a whole.

The costs of cancer are buffeted by so many factors — political, socioeconomic, scientific, spiritual — it would take several books to consider them all. But my motivation comes from discussions I used to have with Rachel, of Cancer Culture Chronicles about what a largely miserable job we do in this country addressing and providing for the real costs of cancer. Because our healthcare access is rooted in a system of employer-based health insurance, it is inherently inequitable. Meanwhile, our so-called social ‘safety nets’ — like Medicare, Medicaid and Disability Income — are under renewed political attack in the current economic climate.

Nonprofit organizations can help, but do not come close to making up the economic shortfall that faces low-income and uninsured women and men who are facing cancer, and often do an inadequate job — or no job at all — providing access to their services. Komen’s recent debacle over funding for Planned Parenthood illustrates the spurious politics behind many nonprofits and their stated missions. However you look at the big picture, without clear, straightforward, and simple access to screening, treatment and financial assistance, the most vulnerable people are often the ones that have the hardest time getting what they need and staying alive to get it. To paraphrase a quote by Acumen Fund Founder and CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz, “The problem with philanthropy is that none of the rich people know [any] poor people.”

Scraping By

Back in December, I wrote a post about how to do estate planning, write a will, specify advanced directives for healthcare, and to plan how you want to leave things when you die. [See Exit Strategy.] I’ve been slowly making my way through the advice I outlined in this post. Just yesterday, I had my second appointment with a professional financial advisor, a good friend of a good friend, who is helping me figure out how to afford to retire someday. Retirement planning is something we all need to do something about. But since having cancer, this has become a much more complex and worrisome concept for me. And yet, I consider myself lucky.

I’m lucky because I had a job that comes with health insurance, cancer insurance, and disability insurance when I was diagnosed. I had an affordable roof over my head. I had a car. I had a savings account. I had already been contributing to retirement savings for several years. The scary part was that I was a ‘single head of household.’ It’s just me and my paycheck — and my ability to keep earning that paycheck — that keeps me off the streets. I have no immediate family members still alive. I have no rich aunts who might leave me a trust fund. Whenever I’ve gotten really sick or injured, one of the first things I’ve thought about is whether I can afford it. And frankly, that has often scared me more than the illness or injury itself.

However, I’ve been lucky. So far. Relatively speaking. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was early cancer. It was non-invasive. My health insurance paid for screening, doctor visits, surgery, radiation, oral chemo. I had paid sick time. I was able to get temporary disability payments. The cancer insurance provided extra funds to help cover unexpected expenses — office visit and drug copays, gas money, paying other people to help keep my house from falling down around me when I couldn’t do anything but sleep. And I was able to drag myself back to work eventually and still do my job. More or less. And I still went broke, ran through my savings, needed to spend money on extra things, extra help, just to get by.

Not long after I returned to work, I found I couldn’t keep up. Post-treatment long- and late-term side effects and complications plagued me. I had to cut back my hours to half-time. For a while, I was able to make up for the lost income by using up my sick and vacation time. When that ran out, I scrabbled and crawled my way back to working at 80% of full-time, and changed my status to long-term partial disability. That way, I could start accumulating sick and vacation time again, but it meant my paycheck was now 20% less for the forseeable future. I tightened my belt, cut expenses where I could, lowered a lot of expectations, and resigned myself to living on less — one-fifth less than I was used to. And still I considered myself lucky I could work at all, that I still had a job, and could mostly keep the wolf from the door.

Meanwhile, I still wake up with pain every day, caused by scarring from surgery and radiation. My brain still runs out of steam unpredictably. Although my fatigue is much better than it was, even a mildly stressful event can throw me right back under the bus at the drop of a hat. Then there is the ever-present fear of recurrence that whips itself up whenever I have to get a check-up. My house is still a mess, my garden is still neglected, and compared to those innocent days before cancer, I am still out of shape, although I readily admit that I’m better off than a lot of folks. Whenever I want to read a new book or have dinner with friends, I have to calculate whether I can afford it this week. And recent larger expenditures — to fill my fuel-oil tank, get two tires and a brake job for my car, and pay for car insurance — have left me cringing.

Cancer has definitely cost me a lot. And continues to. Every paycheck. Every day.

Adding Insult to Illness

Several of my friends have not been so lucky. I was diagnosed in 2008, a few months before the housing bubble burst and the economy crashed. I’ve lost count of the number of friends who lost jobs right before or right after they were diagnosed, or whose spouses did while they were undergoing treatment. I remember in those early days helping to raise emergency funds for an online breast cancer forum friend whose husband lost his job right before Christmas. She was still undergoing acute treatment. Their mortgage was already astronomical. Now they were in danger of losing their home entirely. We managed to scrape together enough money to help them pay the mortgage for a few months and buy a few Christmas presents for their two little boys. They managed to find a program to help them refinance their home. Her husband was able to find other work eventually. They scraped along by the skin of their teeth.

We all know what the last few years have been like for the national and global economy. I still have friends who are unemployed. Who don’t have health insurance. Who never had cancer but suddenly find lumps in their breasts. Who are disabled now and can’t work because of what cancer and cancer treatment has done to their bodies. Every week, someone I know is going broke because of new cancer or old cancer.

A recent news story in USA Today examined cancer’s financial toll. In Cancer’s Growing Burden: The High Cost of Care, journalist Marilyn Marchione reports, ‘Forty years after the National Cancer Act launched the “war on cancer,” the battle is not just finding cures and better treatments but also being able to afford them.’ New and arguably more effective diagnostic and treatment equipment, drugs and surgical techniques are expensive, driving up the cost of insurance premiums and copays for those of us who have insurance in the first place. And unanticipated, lifelong expenses impact everyone. As Marchione further states, ‘The financial strain is showing: Some programs that help people pay their bills have seen a rise in requests, and medical bills are a leading cause of bankruptcies.’

Meanwhile, getting help with the financial strain of having cancer is far from easy. When you have been diagnosed with cancer, it can be a daily challenge not to panic, let alone try to find and sort through getting help. The American Society of Clinicial Oncology provides a downloadable planning resource at this link: Managing the Cost of Cancer Care. Their list of info and links to organizations that provide financial assistance is here: Financial Resources for Cancer Care. But the reality of simply making use of these resources can be a burden in itself, at a time when you are feeling least able to take care of business.

While vulnerable individuals struggle with all this, the political debate continues to rage on about how to fix it, often freighted with far more rhetoric than constructive reasoning. Many people are probably unaware of how large a sector of our healthcare system is already operated and funded by nonprofit entities. The Alliance for Advancing Nonprofit Healthcare outlines the extent of this reality, and the justification for continuing it, in its report The Value of Nonprofit Healthcare. The Affordable Healthcare Act continues to elicit heated argument across the political spectrum, some specious, some legitimate, about its impact on our system. Later this month, the Supreme Court will begin to hear oral arguments on its constitutionality, the result of which could impact not only our future access to healthcare, but the current status of funding for Medicaid, the program that, among other things, administers the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, started by the Centers for Disease Control to provide “low-income, uninsured, and underserved women access to timely breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services.”

How all this will play out is anyone’s guess. But I predict that a lot of us will be wearing tighter belts — if we can afford belts at all — in the future.


How much has cancer cost you or someone you know? Please share your stories below or email them to me at kk@accidentalamazon.com.


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This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 05:03 pm, filed under Diagnosis, Recurrence, Screening, Health & Healthcare, Life & Mortality, Money, Insurance, Access, Survivorship and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

28 Responses to “Broke: The Cost of Breast Cancer”

  1. Hi Kathi,

    Thank you for this comprehensive post on a very, very important topic. We are no closer to winning the war on cancer, and it is an expensive industry. And, like you say, the toll of it all is more than money. It costs us time, mental health, physical health, etc.

    I look forward to your future postings on this topic.

    Hugs,

    Beth

  2. Hey Kathi,
    First I have to tell you that EVERY time I comment, I start to laugh when I have to “do the math” to post the comment….

    I just did a rant on a health insurance issue. Yesterday. Somewhat in sync. I like it!

    http://chemo-brain.blogspot.com/2012/03/deny-deny-deny.html

    I have excellent health insurance. MSKCC is an “in network” provider. But, my co-pay when I see my doctors is $80.00 a shot. $40.00 for the doc, and $40.00 for the hospital. Sometimes, it’s $40.00 more for bloodwork. Now let’s do the math. I was seeing the gyn 4x a yr, the oncologist 3x a yr, 2 surgeons and the dermatologist once a year. That’s 10 doc visits. $800.00 besides the monthly cost of the health insurance. Close to $700.00 a month. (We own the business so WE are paying). Now add meds. Two non-generic scripts per month at $50.00 EACH)……AND, the gas to get to the appointments and when I’m in the city, the cost to park the car. Public transportation isn’t an option from where I live and it wouldn’t be much less costly anyway….

    I have been separated for 18 months. Thankfully, my bills are getting paid. I CAN NOT perform an accounting job. So how does one switch careers with a fried brain. I was staring at $10.00/hr bagging groceries. Mindless. And, I know with “chemobrain” especially 5 years out and DESPITE the study that was just published, social security doesn’t want to hear it.

    I’m fried now… but this is a great conversation….. Let’s keep it going…

    Hope you are feeling okay….. I have tabs on you….. Blame Tobey…. we are all connected now. It’s maybe two degrees of separation. If That.

    xoxox
    AnneMarie

  3. This is a huge, complex topic, Beth, and it will take a lot to patch up our broken system.

    AM, we must be having a kind of mind-meld. Also, I have to admit, I get a chuckle out of my arithmetic CAPCHA thingy, too, which I have to fill in myself when I’m not logged into my blog. LOL. I’ll have to go read your post now.

    Yes, I hope to keep this discussion going for a good long while. I don’t know what I’d have done if I hadn’t been able to go back to work. I shudder to think. And it’s no wonder I still feel like a wreck. My job was exhausting BEFORE cancer…

  4. Yeah, the CAPCHA thing makes me laugh because I suck at math. So far, so good.

  5. Thank you for a great article.
    I really do not think that “civilians” realize what we go through during and AFTER our diagnosis, treatments and life after. Many of us are on meds for the rest of our lives. Every four months we get scanned and have to pay co-pays or, in many cases, pay for scan in full because our insurance company doesn’t deem it “necessary.”
    As a self employed person who was paying her own health insurance, my monthly premium has increased to what would qualify as a mortgage payment… and it isn’t even a high-end policy. I have to use the docs they want me to or not get treatment at all.
    For underinsured or non-insured it is harrowing.
    We compiled a list to help everyone many years ago. It has been duplicated across the web by others, but that’s good. The more people know about it, the better it is.
    Maybe this will help some of your readers:
    http://nosurrenderbreastcancerhelp.org/Financial%20Workplace%20Aid/Financeworkplacemoney.html

    lots of love to you
    g

  6. Kathi,
    Good for you for tackling this topic, another that is neglected and often misrepresented. As you said, the costs of cancer are many, but the financial costs can indeed be overwhelming, some never recovering from the financial blow cancer delivers. I’m not sure exactly how to fix this mess our country is in as far as healthcare, but I do believe the huge disparity that exists is morally wrong. My family does have decent healthcare insurance, but we, too, grapple with unlimited co-payments and a relatively high annual deductible, which in my case, will be an on-going expense every year from now on in all probability. Belt tightening will continue at our house for sure, but again, as you said, what about those who can’t even afford the belt?

  7. Thanks, everyone. This is such a many-faceted issue. I keep thinking about other angles. And hope to tackle them in future posts.

    Gina, thank you so much for that link. I’m going to put it on my Resources page. Honestly, you need a personal assistant just to cope with the financial/insurance end of things. Now THERE’S an idea for a cancer support program…!

  8. Hi Kathi,

    it’s great connecting into your network through your blog from Australia. In Australia we have a much better public health system but it keeps getting wittled away by successive governments and unfortuantely, the US system is being used as a template for reform! it is almost impossible to fight the incredibly powerful vested interests of large US pharmaceutical companies, private health insurance companies, private hospitals and other private health providers. We have a free national breast screening service for women over 50 and we have a reasonable public health system if you need life saving treatment, but anything that is not life saving is considered elective and subject to long waiting times. I was being monitored throught the public health system for years as I was considered high risk, my sister died of breast cancer at 35 and I had a number of problems. I received such poor service – waiting for hours, seeing a different doctor every time, I finally wnet into the private system even though it costs me a lot more. Unfortunately I finally was diagnosed with DCIS and had a series of 3 operations, first my nipple, then a bit more of my breast and finally a total mastectomy. Even though I had private health insurance each operation cost me $5,000 plus time off work each time for recovery etc.

    Its a pity that some of the millions of dollars raised for breast cancer isn’t used for supporting women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer rather than all going to the scientific pursuit of a cure!

    Keep up the good work. I’d love to connect with people from U.S through my blog which is breastlesslandscape.com

    Kay

  9. […] oncologist and reflecting on how cancer has made her much more adaptable (she’s had to be!) Kathi is examining the financial burdens imposed on us by a diagnosis of cancer and indirectly it is the […]

  10. Hi Kathi. Another greeting from Australia here! Like Kay said, our system is very different (and I hope it stays that way), but despite this cancer can be financially catastrophic. I had just moved to a remote area from Sydney when diagnosed – a small city but one with very real limitations in terms of the services available. I went back to Sydney for treatment – my husband kept working FT and my wonderful parents helped out with my living expenses in Sydney. We also had private health insurance, but I’ve been surprised at the relatively small amounts you get back when making a claim. We are most definitely among the lucky ones, but we missed my income dreadfully. I am now v concerned about (a) resuming work (this is planned soon and is financially crucial for us long term, but what if it proves problematic as it does for so many?), (b) our greater dependence on my husband’s income (if his health becomes an issue or he loses his job we’re in a dire situation) and (c) long term issues for me financially – reduced earning potential, ineligibility for various kinds of insurance, etc. I have had sleepless nights and many stressed conversations with my husband about all this, and we’re in a relatively GOOD position. Great topic – I will be interested to read more.

  11. Kay & Liz, so great to hear from you. And to hear from Oz! I was hoping to hear a perspective from another country that has a system of national healthcare. It’s really helpful to put this whole discussion in perspective. I have to say that I managed to get very speedy attention once that first mammogram picked up cancer, but I work in healthcare, so to fair degree, I knew how to wangle the system & get quick attention. It’s not always so for many people, especially those who are uninsured or low-income or live where there are not a lot of services available.

    Our system is so piecemeal in the U.S., yet each of you brings up issues that are common to all of us, no matter where we are. Kay, the whole aspect of younger women, women under 50 or under 40, who are at risk, is one that really sticks in my craw. My friend Rachel, whom I mentioned, was born in Perth, but lived in the U.S. when she was diagnosed. Her breast cancer was found when she was in her thirties, and she died of it, just last month, at age 41. We all know that breast cancer in young women tends to be more aggressive, yet they are left out of the recommended screening guidelines because of their age. And by the time their cancers are found, they are often more advanced.

    And Liz, you bring up issues that are also common everywhere. If you live in a rural area, no matter what country you’re in, it becomes expensive to get yourself to a location where you can be treated. And like you, many people have to uproot themselves. Plus, you raise all the work issues that concern me, too. Naturally, even if you have a working partner, once you’ve had cancer yourself, you both worry more about your health. I gather that the private insurance on offer in Australia can deny coverage based on a ‘pre-existing condition,’ which has been a standard issue here in the States. The Affordable Care Act here makes it illegal for that to happen anymore, but it still may affect the cost of premiums if you go for insurance after you develop cancer.

  12. Powerful post. You write with such clear-eyed clarity on an issue that robs me of sleep. For me, it is still early days with the bills only just beginning to arrive and some sick days still available. Just in case. Along with the ever-present fear of the cancer going rogue in distant places on my body, is the occasional pang of terror over losing the ability to afford it.
    It is horribly ironic that Americans in the 21st century cannot afford the cost of living – the cost of dying -with an incurable disease. The price we pay for the politics of breast cancer …

  13. It’s utterly shameful, Yvonne, that this is the state of things in this country. Politics ought to have no place in this arena, but that is a fond wish, I’m afraid. I’ve just found another link, passed on by a friend, that I’ll post here:

    http://www.copays.org/patients.php

  14. Hi, Kathi. Such an excellent post on a topic that is completely ignored by the mainstream media, unless it can be presented with histrionics and falsehoods. I’m self-employed as well and carry my own medical insurance. I have an odd policy with no deductibles, just a larger out-of-pocket payment with each service. I was lucky enough to not need chemo, so my outlay for surgery & radiation was $8,000, at which point everything was covered. I had to keep working–my company’s very small and we all have a unique job that really can’t be taken over by anybody else. Fortunately, I had savings, so I was okay…I can’t imagine dealing with this otherwise. It was stressful enough without having to worry about finances.

    What I’d like to add to the discussion is the fact that these high costs are just for the “basics” of treatment–surgery, chemo, drugs, scans, radiation, etc . When you get to complementary alternative or holistic treatments…you’re talking about huge outlays because they’re very expensive, insurance doesn’t cover them at all, and most doctors are unfamiliar/dismissive, so you’re not going to get the treatments through a clinic that can bill them as a standard treatment. I had a lot of problems a year after treatment because the scarred tissues started tightening up majorly, pulling my entire upper torso out of whack. But I started seeing someone who does deep tissue massage and other holistic treatments and she spent a couple months breaking up the hardening on my chest and scar area, and I didn’t have any more problems. When I told my docs about this approach, they were amazed. They’d never heard of anyone doing this. Again, I had the money to pay for this, but what could anyone without those resources do? It’s the one beef I have about the alternative sphere of medicine–it’s only available to those who have $$$$$.

  15. This blog post is so true…We all are feeling it….Broke…just scraping by. I know a wonderful gal at RADS who was in tears the other day. Her husband…not meaning to made her feel guilty for having breast cancer because of all the bills. JUST what she needed , on top of everything else 🙁

  16. Hi Kathi, interesting that you mention the ‘War on cancer’. In her book on its history Devra Davies, an epidemiologist, listed many studies suggesting links between cancer diagnoses in particular places and local industrial and agricultural practices. And years later there’s still hardly any decent science being done on this and all the other possible chemical causes of cancer.

    So you all go broke paying for your own treatment, when in fact, in any just system, you should all be claiming compensation.

    Here in the UK Sarah’s physical treatment has all been paid for by our NHS, which is great. But our government is now trying to put through a new health bill which will start moving us towards an insurance based system, like yours. Which will of course be a disaster, but a profitable one for the private health care companies.

  17. Yup! Woke up early this morning reflecting on this very topic and sit down at the computer to see an email from a friend with a link to your post! Thanks for raising this issue — it is completely invisible.

    For a long time, I believed that the issue here was that our health insurance was linked to our jobs — so you get sick, you can’t work, and you have no health insurance. (Stephen Colbert has a great sketch about the stupidity of this model… need a doctor? get insurance! don’t have insurance? get a job! too sick to work? go to a doctor!) I still believe it’s one of the biggest problems, but nearly ten years after my initial diagnosis and treatment, I am still overwhelmed by the enormous financial loss, well beyond health insurance.

    I had just lost my job and separated from my husband when I was diagnosed — unemployed, single with sole responsibility for two young children. I didn’t work for two years while I went through treatment – including a clinical trial where the drug was free, but I had to pay nearly $5000 a month for the clinic visits and “delivery” of the drug. I went back to work immediately after I finished treatment and a year later found myself in a lawsuit against my employer for failure to make accommodations for cancer-related issues (under the American with Disabilities Act — who knew cancer was covered under ADA?). I started part-time work a year later and gradually moved into full-time work again (in a position that is very very flexible). I took a 30% cut in salary from what I was earning BC (before cancer) and much lower level position because I wanted to have good health insurance. That emergency fund that I so carefully saved in the BC years is long gone, there is no savings for college tuition for the kids or for retirement. I am an educated professional and I am living paycheck to paycheck after cancer.

    I consider myself lucky — I am alive and cancer-free. My children are healthy and seem to have recovered from the emotional trauma of watching a parent go through cancer treatment. I have a flexible job with good benefits. The cost of cancer is there… hidden beneath the surface.

    Much of the “breast cancer dialogue” is about emotional recovery. The financial impact of this disease on young women, especially single women and most especially single mothers, is completely ignored. Thanks for shining a light on it, Kathi.

  18. MissyB, somewhere in my files, I have a copy of a research study on cancer-related cognitive dysfunction (aka “chemo brain”) that ended up veering into the financial impact of breast cancer & described a number of women whose circumstances were similar to yours, with the added angle that some women simply could not do the same kind of professional work they had done before cancer because of the physical/cognitive toll it took on them. Which then forced them into battling employers who would not accommodate them or taking drastic paycuts to do other jobs they were over-qualified for. It just gets us from every which way.

    Sandra, I had to have extensive soft-tissue work myself; and since it was done by a PT, much of it was covered, by I ended up having to pay a huge deductible & hundreds of dollars in copays, which were not covered. I should still be getting soft-tissue work done every week, but I can’t afford it.

    Deb, you underscore another important issue, that the financial toll by itself puts a tremendous strain on relationships & families, as if the cancer itself weren’t bad enough.

    Ronnie, I have a friend in Scotland who’s been telling me about what’s going on with the NHS. It’s appalling. I really hate to see the UK going down this road. And yes, all these environmental carcinogens — there ought to be class-action suits on our behalf, but I fear that’s a pipe dream. I intend to keeping supporting Breast Cancer Action in my own small way.

    Well, I certainly intend to keep writing about this issue, that’s for sure.

  19. Kathi, thanks for starting up this conversation again. It must be revisited over and over.

    I had a good job with benefits both times when I was diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer. So I was “lucky” in that sense, especially since my insurance also paid for lymphedema treatment and garments for self-care. But when I retired in 2008 right before the crash, I lost my benefits. My husband at the time insisted I retire and said he would “take care of me.” I’m so sorry I retired. I don’t know if I can ever get a similar job back. Now I pay $1200 a month for an individual policy, more than my rent. My husband found a younger creature to take my place. I guess he took care of me, all right.

    Sorry for my cynicism, but I don’t see any hopeful future for us breast cancer people financially. I tried to get regularly-priced insurance, but my company told me, “no can do” until I’m at least ten years out from the cancer. So here I am paying that exorbitant premium until I can no longer afford it or reach Medicare, whichever comes first. Or maybe my cancer will just come back again to complicate matters. But I won’t go there.

    Please do keep up the discussion. XXOO Jan

  20. Jan, I’m still just blown away by your ex’s betrayal. It’s not like it’s uncommon, because it is a sad reality with cancer, that it can lead to marriage break-ups. But honestly, you sounded like such a solid couple. And here you are, spending an absolutely shocking amount of money for health insurance. That new provision that insurers can’t deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions certainly doesn’t prevent them from gouging us with premiums. You’ve earned the right to some cynicism, my friend. I’m just sorry you’ve gone through all this.

  21. I’m not well. I’m suicidal due to the pain in my body. I’m trying to keep going but I’m not fun.

    I took an overdose then chickend out and threw it up.
    I got stuck in the looney bin and that made it worse. I thought going there would help but it just traumatized me.
    Nothing fixes the level 7 24/7 peripheral nerve pain in my hands and feet except to be asleep.
    I try to work.
    I’m broke.
    Have days long headaches.
    Back goes out and then stays out for 3 weeks slowly returning.

    This April will be the year anniversary that my cousin died. I was bedside for that.

    This is a very bad quality of life.

  22. Terrific post about such an important subject! People in the US who have never been seriously ill or injured tend to think of it as an issue about if you have insurance or you don’t. But it’s so much more than that. Even with good insurance, the costs are astounding. Then add the loss of work (even a partial loss can have a huge impact). We need to keep talking about this. I wrote a series of posts for a while on the Health of Our Care….you’ve reminded me that the issue has not gone away. It may be time to revisit it.

  23. Julie, I will have to look up your posts on this subject. Especially this year, when so-called entitlements are under attack, when insurance coverage is such a contentious subject, we need to keep this in front of people. If you’ve never been really broke, never had your ability to work threatened or curtailed, you have no idea what the rest of us go through.

    Anonymous, I am more sorry than I can say that you are saddled with chronic pain AND being broke. Each of those things is just so exhausting. Both together? Miserable. Please know that you are not alone. I wish I could offer something more than that, like a winning lottery ticket or a miraculously effective pain med. I’m glad you shared your comments.

  24. Thank you for covering this topic. We all work so hard to be positive about the advancements in diagnosis and treatment that too often the costs of breast cancer are ignored. Women and their families need help planning for and dealing with this often overlooked and unexpected “side effect.”

  25. Kathi, you hit the nail on the head about my ex and me striking you as a solid couple. We were, or so it seemed. It still blows me away. Thanks for your kind words. Regarding your post about radiation, I hadn’t heard about that recon using lipo transfer. I’ll have to look into that here. Thanks for alerting me to that. Hope you feel better soon. XX

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