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What to Ask Your Health Care Team After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is one of the most distressing moments you can face in your lifetime. All at once, patients must confront big questions about their health, their finances, their family’s wellbeing, and their legacy.

During a time like this, it’s crucial to gather as much information as you can to make the right choices for yourself and your loved ones. Those recently diagnosed can begin this process by compiling a list of questions to ask their health care professionals, health insurance company, and financial advisors.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, Fifth Season Financial is exploring four essential questions that breast cancer patients should raise with their health care team:

What is my course of treatment?

Some 250,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and there are many courses of treatment. “Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread,” explains the CDC. “People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.” Treatment can range from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation (or any combination of those three), plus other avenues.

Patients should have a clear understanding of their treatment, timelines, medicines, and side effects. Your oncologist will help with this, and breast cancer support groups can provide additional insight into what to expect from treatment.

How will I cover the cost of my treatment?

Too often, a cancer diagnosis brings not just a health crisis, but also a financial one too: “For patients and their families, the costs associated with direct cancer care are staggering,” reports the American Cancer Society. “In 2014, cancer patients paid nearly $4 billion out-of-pocket for cancer treatments.” There’s even a term for this – financial toxicity.

Asking the right questions early, coupled with planning ahead, can help mitigate financial hardship or prevent it altogether. Talk to your health insurance provider to determine which parts of your treatment are and aren’t covered. Then, research methods for additional financial support. has a list of resources available, from government programs to nonprofits.

Can I leverage my life insurance?

For many cancer patients, their life insurance policy is a major resource that often goes unused. A common misconception is that life insurance policies are only valuable after the individual has passed on. In fact, borrowing against a life insurance policy can help patients pay for treatment, cover related bills, and minimize financial burdens.

Fifth Season Financial’s Funds for Living Program advances money to cancer patients from their life insurance policies. The Funds For Living Program is also highly flexible – funds don’t need to be used to cover healthcare costs. Money can be spent on a much-needed vacation, used to pay down a mortgage, or anything else. There are zero restrictions. Further, Fifth Season Financial takes over all future premium payments, and the policy remains in place. In over 90 percent of cases, money remains to pass on to beneficiaries.

How should I change my lifestyle?

Treating cancer isn’t just about what happens in the doctor’s office. Patients may need to overhaul their daily lifestyle as well to help maximize the treatment’s chance of success. recommends managing stress, sleeping for seven or eight hours every night, and eating vegetables and other foods high in fiber. Your oncologist can provide a full list of necessary lifestyle changes. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer or another advanced-stage illness, Fifth Season Financial may be able to help. The ultimate goal of the Funds For Living Program is to help relieve financial stress so that clients can focus on their health and quality of life. Unlike a viatical settlement, clients are able to secure an advancement and leave funds for their beneficiaries. To learn more about the program, contact us today.

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