Category Archives: costs

How much does radiation (for breast cancer) cost?

My radiation oncology bills are starting to pour in, so it’s time for another personal finance post. To date, I’ve received bills for 11 out of 28 treatments. Here are the #s:



Filed under breast cancer, costs, radiation

Financial aid for breast cancer & a collective thank you

At a recent breast cancer retreat, one of the “house moms” asked those of us at the dinner table, “What helped you the most?” One woman described how prayer in the morning helped her get through each day, and so on. By the time it was my turn to answer I was feeling incredibly shallow. My answer? “Money.” (Though flowers are a close second.)

Getting breast cancer meant that I took an incredible financial hit, in lost income and increased expenses. So how did I get through? Well, in part, through grants. Continue reading


Filed under breast cancer, chemo, costs, financial assistance

Chemo costs – the final # is in

Here’s another post for the personal finance and cancer bloggers out there. Now that chemo is done and all the bills are in, I have the final numbers. For 8 rounds of chemo (4 of adriamycin/cytoxan and 4 of taxol), the grand total was…drumroll…: $90,709.

That’s what the oncology office charged. The break down: Continue reading


Filed under breast cancer, chemo, costs

Blogher, i[2]y and the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund

I feel like a walking advertisement for AFLAC. I should have bought their cancer insurance – I think the deal was something like $20 a month and a $9000 payout. That would have worked nicely.

However, I didn’t do it. Sigh. Since my breast cancer diagnosis, due to the sheer # of doctor’s appointments and feeling crummy due to chemo I’ve had to shift down to working part-time. This, combined with additional medical expenses and the fact that I have no disability insurance (as is the case with many nonprofit staff) leaves me with a $1000 gap between expenses and income each month.

So I’ve applied for financial assistance like crazy. Most recently, I saw a post on blogher about a young adult’s cancer survivorship group called “I’m too young for this.” Being under 40 and currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer, the post caught my eye. I followed the link to the “I’m too young” site, and that led to the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund. I wrote to them to see if they provide financial help for those outside of California, and they wrote back a day later and said they did, and so I applied right away.

Friday night – 9 days after I saw the blogher post – they called and said they had unanimously approved my application and were paying the majority of my rent for August. Now that’s a quick turn-around. And the assistance really helps.

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Filed under breast cancer, chemo, costs, financial assistance

Almost done with A/C!

On to the last adriamycin/cytoxan chemo on Thursday!! So excited to be almost done. These past few days I’ve been super tired because the chemo caused my feet to swell, so I could barely walk, so I haven’t been able to exercise, which in turn makes me tired. I miss my daily walks around the neighborhood, a lot. More than I would have imagined.

My SIL, her mom and my niece and nephew were here last week and that was wonderful. Many many thanks to Katie’s Nana, as she put up a curtain rod and did multiple other house repairs. Go Nana!

And many thanks to my SIL, Anne, who spent a whole day organizing my medical bills and helping to figure out financial aid. With the help of the Breast Center social worker, we continued Anne’s good work, got a lot of paperwork sorted, and applied for grants.

The good news is that I’ve rec’d three grant awards so far, two of which seem to be accessible. (Only being able to work part-time and having almost $400 in additional medical costs per month gives me a budget gap of anywhere from $600 – $1000 a month which I’ve been trying to cut and fill, so I’ve spent days and days working on budgets. Yep, life without disability insurance bites. And to think that I almost got us disability insurance at work in January, I just put it off a little too long. The paperwork was in the works. Sigh….)

CancerCare is sending $150 off the bat (bless them) and will reimburse for $300 in prescriptions, with their funding from AvonCares. Thanks to my sister-in-law and the social worker at the Breast Center, over $300 in receipts got sent off on Friday, so we’ll see how many of my pain and anti-nausea prescriptions they’ll actually cover.

The Copay Relief Fund is supposedly awarding $2000, with the final decision June 15, but it all seems to be in the works. They’ll pay for co-pays for prescriptions (past and future, which rocks) and for co-pays for doctor’s visits (also very good for reimbursement, but not so useful in the future because I’ve hit my insurance max-billed-out-of-pocket so I won’t have to pay future copays anyways). I doubt that I’ll be able to access half of the award, but ya never know. It’s good to have as back-up for worst-case scenarios, and I think it’s good for a whole year.

However, the Copay Relief Fund staff told me they do NOT cover co-insurance, when right now I have about $800 worth of co-insurance bills, with $400 or more expected. Let’s hope that some financial aid comes through for the co-insurance, because that’s the greatest need. Otherwise I’m going to be paying things off monthly for a very long time.

Also, the Patient Access Network (PAN) awarded me up to $7000, but it’s for such a specific purpose that I’ll be able to access maybe 1-5% of that – it’s only for chemo infusion drugs and my health insurance already covers that. Hopefully PAN will cover the co-insurance fees for the infusions at the very least. We’ll see.

Thank goodness for the financial aid awards; wish me the best on 4 more applications: Healthwell, Sensational in Survival, Modest Needs and Providence’s own financial aid. If you have ideas of other places to apply, let me know!

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Filed under breast cancer, costs, financial assistance

How much it costs (to have breast cancer)

So here’s a post for the personal finance bloggers out there: How much does it cost to have breast cancer? I’m not talking pain and suffering or other qualitative costs, though I’m sure that there’s an actuarial formula somewhere that puts a price on the loss of a breast, on the loss of fertility, on quality of life lost due to chemo, etc. Instead I’m looking only at overt fiscal costs.

Since the call-back mammogram on March 6, I have had 63 (…..let’s just pause for a moment and appreciate that number: sixty-three……) appointments related to breast cancer: 28 in March, 25 in April and 10 in May to date.

My out of-pocket-costs so far total $3258.50:

Copays: $415 ($65 HMO, $170 PPO, $180 2nd opinion outside insurance, reduced down from $360)

Prescriptions: $225.98 ($123.98 HMO & $102 PPO)

Supplements, etc:$234.64

Dining out due to timing of doc’s appts: $93.72

Mileage; $126 (rough, assumes 10 miles round trip per appt at the federal mileage rate of 20 cents/mile)

Equipment costs: $363.15 (digital voice recorder for docs appts, replacement cell phone when mine got damaged and went out in the middle of an oncologist’s call, 3500 extra cell phone minutes)

Loss of income: $1800 – I went down to 20 hours/week, and my income went down accordingly. Now, as a nonprofit professional, I don’t make that much, but the income loss amounts to approx. $600 out of pocket per month. And we have no disability insurance.

And then there’s the fact that with my new PPO insurance, which started April 1, there are deductibles and a cap which I still have to reach: $250 deductible, and a cap of $1250, for a total of $1500. I haven’t received any actual bills yet. So that’s a scary thing, and new, as I don’t understand what those bills will look like.

I don’t even know what the 10% “co-insurance” fee is. And if I’ll still have to pay copays once that max is reached. My guess is that I’ll still have to pay for prescriptions, but only ones that I fill in pharmacy. Thank goodness there’s no copay for chemo drug administering, after hours calls, nurse triage calls, etc. The only copays that I know to expect are for office visits.

Plus then there are the costs incurred by friends and family – mileage to and from Eugene, 3 times; mileage to and from Kirkland, 5 times. Extra phone minutes for them. The times they bought me groceries; the donated wigs, the donations of hair dressing time, the gifts of scarves, and flowers, and gift certificates, and book after book.

There are also the nonprofit professional services that have been donated – five counseling appointments through the Ruth J Spears Breast Center, a chemo 101 education appt through Cancer Cares, the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Good program (for which I gave most of the product away, it had way too many chemicals in it), etc.

So wish me luck with my applications for cancer-related financial assistance this month. More on that later.


Filed under breast cancer, costs

My Breast Cancer Cell Phone Minutes Fund :)

In addition to the gorgeous bouquets of roses, gerber daisies and daffodils, some folks have asked if they can send donations to cover unexpected expenses like the 2052 cell phone minutes I’ve used since first being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, all the extra copays, deductibles etc. I used up my personal/sick leave in the past two weeks and, like many other do-gooders in the nonprofit industry, I have no disability benefits. As I’m facing 4 months of chemo, which I’m told is harder than surgery, donations would be most welcome. We’d like to keep me in house and home and fed.

My sister-in-law is handling all gifts. Many, many thanks for your thoughtfulness, may good luck follow you all of your days.


Filed under breast cancer, costs