Brenda Hay describes her late husband Robert with the kind of glow that you hear about in the movies.
They met young. Robert was in the navy and Brenda was an army nurse stationed in El Paso. When he came into the unit as a patient after a car wreck, he was immediately smitten. “Every time I would try to take his vital signs,” Brenda recalls, “he would hold my hand and ask me out.” But it wasn’t until Brenda came down with a cold, and Robert sent her a package stuffed with cold medicines, that she agreed to go out with him.
Six weeks from the day they first met, they were married.
They built a life together – Robert earning a degree as a plastics engineer and going on to design a plastics robotics company and Brenda continuing to nurse and run hospital units. They had children, and Robert grew into a father figure…not just for his own children, but for others (including Brenda’s siblings, who didn’t know their own father). He was a scotch connoisseur, a great golfing buddy, and a mentor to so many people he’d come across. “He was a brilliant man,”, says Brenda, “I think I loved his stature and the way he looked, but his mind was just phenomenal.” They moved to California, then back to Texas, and soon began to enjoy Robert’s retirement together…if not alone. “He was a partier!” says Brenda. “He loved to party, he loved people.”.
But in October 2016, the party began to slow down.
Robert developed a cold, but couldn’t shake the symptoms with antibiotics. After he went to the ER one day with difficulty breathing, doctors did a CAT scan and discovered the issue.
It was lung cancer.
The cancer had spread to areas that made removal impossible, so he went through chemo and radiation. He was sick but fighting through it, going to regular treatments and working through the process. But last July, heading to a chemo treatment, Robert collapsed. He had two pulmonary embolisms, right in the main artery to the lungs. He was in ICU for five days, and the main hospital for 30.
And as his treatment became more expensive, the financial stress began to take its toll. Between co-pays, doctor visits, treatment costs and other expenses, the Hay’s financial stability was rocked. Even with Brenda’s salary helping, she recalls, “Nobody plans on paying $4,000, $5,000 a month. And then all of the things that weren’t covered. You know, I wanted him to have anything and everything…the right kind of wheelchair, the right kind of chair for the shower…they don’t pay for this.”
Brenda began to consider selling their home, almost unimaginable considering Robert’s condition. But then an accountant told her about Fifth Season Financial’s Funds for Living Program.
After calling Fifth Season and speaking to Amanda and Giovanny, Brenda learned that they could use Robert’s life insurance policy to receive a Funds for Living advance. Unlike a traditional bank loan (which would have been nearly impossible to receive, considering Robert’s condition), they learned that all of the interest and fees would be paid later out of Robert’s death benefit. And all surplus funds would then go to Brenda, Robert’s beneficiary.
Brenda quickly applied, and within a few weeks learned that he qualified for a $172,500 advance. They could not have been more excited. “I remember jumping up and down,”, Brenda says, “and I’m like “Baby, we can go anywhere! If we want to go to the cancer center, if you want to go anywhere, we can go!”.
Soon thereafter, the money was wired to their account. Despite the trials and tribulations of Robert’s care, they could at least be assured that they’d have the funds to help him live the best possible life. “It was like a horrible, horrible storm, and then a cloud opens up and there’s sunshine,” remembers Brenda.
They used their Funds for Living advance in diverse ways, both big and small. They paid for Robert’s medications. They built a ramp for his wheelchair. They flew in relatives to visit for Christmas. Brenda even used the money to make sure they could buy foods that helped spark Robert’s appetite.
Her memories of working with Fifth Season’s team could not be more positive. “When you’re dealing with people in these situations, people go back to being nothing but human, with their emotions. Everything else falls away. And the staff, the people at Fifth Season, were quick and efficient…but in a way, they talked to the real person.”
After a long, hard battle, Robert Hay passed away earlier this year. Brenda received significant surplus funds left after their Funds for Living advance, money she’s using to throw a big memorial bash in California for his family and friends there. And she’ll spread his remains out at Robert’s favorite golf course, just as he wished. Through it all, she remains thankful that their financial health was not compromised. “Nobody would deal with us, but you guys did!! Fifth Season was the only part of our treatment team that did not let us down.”
In memory of Robert Hay…husband, father, and mentor to so many.