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Navigating Through Job Loss and Health Expenses as a Cancer Survivor

6 things to help cancer survivors through loss of income.
PUBLISHED April 18, 2017
Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician and a writer. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Currently, he operates his website for those affected by cancer, 2surviveonline.com and drinks a ridiculous amount of coffee per day.
For some, being between jobs simply means no income. I get it, that’s a big deal. For others like myself who have been ill, being between jobs can mean no income and no much-needed health insurance. I mean actual health care. I don’t mean a policy that only covers standard doctor’s visits but no hospital stays, ER trips, diagnostic imaging, surgery or name brand medications. By the way, this is a recent insurance option that came before my eyes. I’m sorry, it may have met the individual mandate under the ACA, but that isn’t any type of “coverage.” That’s a whole other story, though.

Throughout the years, I’ve faced being between jobs. This meant paying the regular ol’ bills and paying for the “health stuff” at the same time. Luckily, I’ve been fortunate enough to always find work relatively quickly when needed (i.e. after a contract job ends). But when considering my options, experience and a little brainstorming, I thought of the six points below for helping navigate through being someone in need of health care and a gap in employment.

The List
By “the list,” I mean a list of business contacts, recruiters and even former employers from the past. This is your go-to list should something happen with your current job. This isn’t a list you create on the fly, this is a list you constantly build upon and maintain. For example, if a recruiter contacts you about a job, you may say no to the job, but don’t say no to the contact. Get their information and add them to your list. It could pay off later.

Family and Friends
We all can be a bit proud, but when you need help, ya need help. If you have friends who are willing and able, they can be considered as an option for financial support or easing the financial burden when needed. I’d suggest treading lightly with this option, money plus friends and family can sometimes equal trouble. (Maybe I should have put this one at the bottom of the list as the nuclear option.)

Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is becoming increasingly more popular for those looking to pay large medical bills or raise money to create the “World’s Large Jockstrap.” Yes, I’m serious right now. Anyway, I often Tweet crowdfunding pages on my Twitter accounts to help those with cancer who are trying to tackle their medical bills. Crowdfunding plus a little bit of social media could help bring in some much-needed funds. If you are interested, check out the sites for GoFundMe and YOUCARING.

Do This, This and That
Don’t just get your money from one place, seek out multiple streams of income. If you are able to do a part-time job, do it — a side gig or two can add some much-needed cash to your bank account in the end. If you like the idea of working at home online, you may want to consider selling on eBay, Etsy, fiverr, craigslist, etc. After my bone marrow transplant in 1998, I was able to make some great side money selling on eBay. I actually ended up becoming a PowerSeller — and if online gigs just aren’t your thing, consider seasonal jobs, pet sitting, babysitting, cooking — make a list of all the things that you can do well and think if you can monetize them.

Save!
This one goes without saying. Your ability to save is as important as your ability to earn income. However, paying for expensive medications can wreak havoc on your finances and break your bank. Snap! I’ve been known to use a coupon or two for not only my groceries, but also for my medications. Not every doctor is going to hook you up with a coupon for that medication costing you $200 a month, but if you ask, ye may receive. There are also medication assistance programs offered through government programs and through well-known drugstores such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Target. Also, be sure to check out Blink Health online.

Plan A, B and C
Finding a job is stressful, losing a job is definitely stressful, but the loss of income and healthcare can be devastating. When it comes to contingency plans with job loss and health issues, you should always have not just one plan, but several plans. If plan A fails, then you will need plan B, plan C or maybe just the parent’s couch. Consider these backup plans as treatment options for your finances.
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