How to cope with the cost of surviving cancer
Globally, more people are surviving cancer than ever before. Speaking in light of Global Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, Jaco Gouws, Protection Product Head at Old Mutual, says that the fear around cancer diagnosis is slowly changing – thanks to numerous medical advances in treatment options and facilities. “The question is less about how to survive cancer – and more about how to ensure you can live your best life when you do.”
Although the prevalence of cancer increases every year in South Africa, it is encouraging to see survival rates improving globally. Gouws points out, however, that a positive prognosis does come with strings attached. “Unfortunately, the costs you need to consider during remission – such as increased out-of-hospital medical and care costs, additional childcare expenses and the move toward a healthier lifestyle and diet – have also increased.
“This financial pressure can cause overwhelming stress on an individual and their family,” says Gouws. “The biggest cause for claims in 2017 were related to cancer and tumours which accounted for 30% of all underwritten claims. Research shows that in addition to anxiety over treatment side-effects, fear of death or cancer recurrence, many cancer patients list financial stress as one of their top concerns.”
To ensure that getting healthy, staying healthy and making the most of life are your only concerns, it is important to have a holistic financial plan that includes severe illness cover.
“Severe illness cover provides much needed relief in the form of a lump sum to ensure that extra medical or lifestyle costs can be covered – especially considering that as a cancer survivor the ability to earn a salary may be impacted either in the shorter or longer term. Disability income can also replace your income if you’re booked off or unable to work during your recovery period.”
Gouws adds that discussing your financial position, needs and goals with a trusted financial adviser is key – especially during a stressful time. Your adviser is there to guide you in finding the right solutions for your needs and budget – and also to advise you on how to wisely manage a lump sum payout to further protect your and your family’s future.”
Surviving cancer is physically and emotionally taxing. “The focus should be on redefining and living the best possible life after surviving the disease – rather than on how to make ends meet,” Gouws concludes.