Cancer is a very scary word for most people. Most adults know someone who has cancer or knew someone who died from cancer. There are many different types of cancer and many different causes of cancer. A recent publication from Johns Hopkins stated that, “All cancers are caused by a combination of bad luck, the environment and heredity,” and came to the conclusion that roughly 2/3 of cancer “is due to ‘bad luck,’ that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells.” Luck was much more important than genetics or life style. Although things like smoking still cause the bulk of lung cancer deaths and genetics was very important in some cancers.
Unfortunately, I am one of the unlucky ones who got cancer for no apparent reason other than bad luck. I have a cancer of my blood plasma called Multiple Myeloma (MM). No one else that I know of in my family history had MM. It is an incurable cancer that I have been living with for at least 5 years. The average lifespan for someone diagnosed with MM is 4 years. I currently bounce from chemo drugs that have pretty bad side effects, to radiation therapy. The radiation gets rid of tumors that are just under the skin, and gives my body time to heal from the chemo drugs.
Even with all my various cancer treatments and their side effects, my wife and I continue to live and save as we always have. I want to leave my wife with ample funds for her retirement, and we both would like to eventually leave our son an inheritance. We certainly do not want to burden him with taking care of his mother later in her life. We have also saved quite a bit in our son’s 529 college fund, and continue to add $500 every month. We want him to be able to graduate with zero student debt.
We have great health and disability insurance through work. All my cancer treatments have hardly cost us anything. We also have a $200k term life insurance policy through work. On top of that, I took out a 25 year $500k term life insurance policy when our son was born that we continue to keep current.
It makes me happy to know that my family will be financially OK because we had good insurance for health, disability, and term life prior to my cancer diagnosis. I always shake my head in disbelief when I read about someone who can afford it saying that they don’t want to waste money paying for health insurance because they are healthy. I was very healthy before I got cancer, too. As the Johns Hopkins study pointed out, many cancers, including mine, are mostly bad luck for which no one knows the cause.
Life, whether it’s long or short, is what you make of it. I continue to be the best husband and father that I can be under our current circumstances.
Please, if you are under-insured, or know someone who is, take heed of the recent “Cancer is Mostly Bad Luck” study. We are all mortal, and stuff happens.