With cancer treatment, you, your doctors and your loved ones want to do everything possible so you can beat the disease. Sparing no expense, though, can be difficult for the average person, and the stress that comes with these financial challenges can take a toll.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get a handle on the cost your treatment and to manage the stress that comes with it. Financial counselors at our hospital in Tulsa and a mind-body therapist at our hospital outside Phoenix offer advice on both.
Communication is key to managing your finances
Lauren McDonald, Financial Counselor in our Tulsa hospital, urges patients to develop relationships with a financial counselor at their hospital, as well as their care manager and social worker. Financial counselors, in particular, can help you understand your insurance coverage and can be a resource for you.
“As financial counselors, we help address our patients’ concerns by explaining their insurance coverage in great detail,” McDonald says. “We meet with all new patients and explain to them how their insurance will cover them at our hospital, answer their questions and help break down any barriers they may be facing.”
It’s also important to call your insurance company directly to get answers to questions about your coverage. And don’t count out your doctor as a resource, too. A study from Duke Cancer Institute found that patients who bring up money issues, believe that doing so helped reduce their costs. Doctors may be able to prescribe cheaper medications or refer patients to hospital assistance programs.
How to cope with financial stress
Managing your financial stress is just as important as managing your treatment, as stress may inhibit healing at the time you need it most. Steve White, Director of Mind-Body Medicine at our hospital outside Phoenix, says patients may experience anxiety or depression because of financial worry.
White advises patients to manage their stress through a variety of ways:
- Getting enough sleep
- Participating in activities and hobbies you enjoy
- Guided imagery, in which you imagine yourself in a calm place
Hobbies, in particular, can help you forget your problems. When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you can lose track of time and become completely absorbed in something that gives you joy.
“If you’re going to take time off work for treatment, try to use that time to do things you want to do,” White says. “Look at having cancer as a chance to rethink your life and priorities. Yes, it’s something you have to get through, but it’s also a time to re-examine life.”
Get more tips to manage the financial challenges of cancer.
Read more about how to cope with financial stress.