First of all, you’ll need to take a serious look at your finances. If you’re self-employed as I was when my mother was sick, find a lawyer and discuss options, such as forming a corporation to limit personal financial liability. Figure out as many tax shelters as possible. Think about limiting the number of business associates you tell about your loved one’s cancer—potential clients or partners may assume that you’re going to be too busy helping the person with cancer to take on work, and then your business will decline just when you need the income most.
Then . . . just be a grownup about it, which is harder than it sounds if you’re caring for someone. Yes, a certain amount of emotional turmoil is to be expected, but the point is that you and your loved one can’t allow the cancer to rule your life. You still have to earn money, you still have to live your life, and the dishes don’t wash themselves.
One of the primary causes of stress among people with cancer and their families is coping with the possible financial issues. Financial concerns primarily stem from two sources: (1) the cost of medical care and level of insurance coverage, and (2) the loss of wages caused by temporary or permanent job loss.
There are several ways to help reduce the financial impact, including knowing what the person with cancer can do to protect him or herself and knowing about possible government and private financial assistance. However, this topic is complex and varies by geographic region and by individual concerns and situations.
Consult a social worker, along with a lawyer or financial planner, to obtain specific information. The following information serves as a guide to help you ask the right questions.