I’m reading a helpful new book by Dan Shapiro, And in Health: A Guide for Couples Facing Cancer Together. Shapiro brings an uncommon combination of academic expertise and personal experience to the vital issue of caregiving. Not only is Shapiro a Ph.D. from the University of Florida with a post-doctoral fellowship in medical crisis counseling from Harvard Medical School, but he is also a cancer survivor and caregiver to his wife who developed a serious form of breast cancer. All this to say, Shapiro is a man who has earned the right to be heard when it comes to navigating the cancer caregiver waters.
I plan to blog on this book from time-to-time as I make my way through it. In today’s reading I was reminded of the high financial cost of fighting breast cancer. As Shapiro outlines, it isn’t cheap:
A recently published study by Maria Pisu at the University of Alabama in Birmingham focused on the financial burdens experienced by couples facing breast cancer. She and her colleagues found that during treatment, couples with insurance can expect to pay an additional $300 – $1,180 per month on top of their usual spending just for medical costs — and an additional $137 – $174 for transportation. These costs decrease but do continue after treatment, with couples paying between $200 and $509 per month in the year after treatment and beyond . . . . The hard part for many couples is that these additional financial burdens come when we are already earning less than before treatment. In some cases, it is possible for both members of the couple to continue working throughout treatment, but in many situations, this is unrealistic — and even if it’s possible, many patients need and want their partner with them when they go through challenging treatments (pp. 49-50).
It’s realities like this that gave birth to the benevolence arm within Team Julia. Alleviating the financial burden of fighting cancer is something we can do right now. Because fighting cancer is hard enough without the added burden of the escalating costs associated with it.