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I Received an Unexpected Piece of Mail Regarding a Cancer Bill


Cancer often brings with it bad news, including expensive bills, but one day, a surprise came – one I’ll never forget.

There’s a service our postal office offers called Informed Delivery. By signing up for it, customers can receive email alerts with photos of upcoming pieces of mail. It’s a great service, and I especially like the fact that I can see when I’m supposed to receive letters from loved ones. I also get advanced notice of incoming bills, etc.

Yesterday, as I was checking my email alert for the day’s upcoming mail delivery, I noticed a piece of mail I was to receive later that day. It looked like it was from a bill collector and listed a medical service in the return address. Medical bills were nothing new. I’d been receiving them constantly for the past eight years. Cancer is expensive and even though we have good insurance, my husband and I always end up paying the portion insurance doesn’t cover.

Sometimes, the bills are extremely high and even with insurance, we can end up owing hundreds of dollars. Multiply that by several different facilities and the bills can mount very quickly.

We’ve been lucky. Though my husband is still working, we don’t always make enough to cover each bill in full when it arrives. Usually, I end up calling medical offices and making payment arrangements. They’re usually quick to understand and offer help, but some aren’t as lenient. We do our best not to let bills go for long periods and are always careful to make our monthly payments, but occasionally a company gets tired of waiting and will turn the bill over to a collector. When that happens, we get letters demanding payment. Those collectors are trained to get debts cleared quickly and aren’t as willing to work with patients as most medical offices are.

When I saw the photo of the upcoming piece of mail, I cringed. I couldn’t think of any outstanding bills, but I could have been wrong. I didn’t mention my concerns to my husband. I planned to get the mail while he was at work and check it out before he got home, but it didn’t work out that way. The mail carrier was late that day.

My husband ended up getting the mail and as he often does, he took all the bills and gave me the more personal items. He doesn’t like me to worry about bills. I appreciate his protectiveness but was curious about that one piece of mail, so I asked him to see it before it was opened. Looking at the return address, I was confused. I didn’t recognize the address. It wasn’t local.

Quickly, I grabbed my letter opener and slit open the envelope. Standing over my shoulder, we both look at the same time. The letter started, “Dear Mrs. Annis, We’d like to inform you…” As soon as I read those words, I braced for what I assumed was coming — you owe x amount of dollars, and we expect it to be paid in a timely fashion, blah, blah, blah, then we’ve decided to turn you over to such and such collection agency...”But that’s not what happened at all!

As I read, my eyes began to fill with tears. The letter stated that an anonymous donor had graciously agreed to pay my outstanding balance with the cancer treatment center. What?! I’d never received anything like that in my life! I looked at my husband and he looked at me. We both wondered if it could be some sort of scam, so we re-read the letter. After reading it again, we realized it wasn’t a scam! This was a legitimate and most fortunate blessing.

Near the end of the letter, I was told I could contact the donor through the cancer treatment center if I wanted to share my story or offer a word of thanks, but the donor’s name would never be revealed to me. Wow! All I could say was wow.

It felt so good to know that in our world of constant complaints and negativity, there are still good people out there. The anonymous donor had no idea how he/she had blessed me that day and their gift of love is one I won’t ever forget.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, one of the first things I thought about was “how am I going to pay for this?” It’s one thing to be thrust into a world of uncertainty and pain but quite another to be saddled with medical expenses you have no way of paying.

Many hospitals and doctors’ offices offer payment plans and sometimes, they’ll even forgive a portion of large bills when a patient qualifies for financial aid. Those programs aren’t often advertised, and patients must seek out help on their own.

Catastrophic illnesses aren’t always covered by all insurance plans. Many people end up going into debt or even doing drastic things to meet medical expenses like taking out a second mortgage on their homes or taking out loans. It should never be that way.

I pray the person who gave so freely of their resources to bless me will receive a tenfold blessing in the future. I also pray that the others that were blessed by this same donor will take the time to write a note of thanks expressing their heartfelt gratitude.

For me, it’s difficult to be on the receiving end of a blessing. I’m usually the person giving to others, but this gift taught me a valuable lesson and that’s how to be a gracious receiver.

I’ve placed the letter in a special place. I want to be able to take it out occasionally and be reminded of the goodness of others. If you’ve never been on the receiving end of a miraculous gift like this, I hope you will in the future. It’s a very special and humbling feeling, one I’ll not soon forget.

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