I was diagnosed with noninvasive breast cancer in the spring of 2009 and it came as a complete surprise. I have no family history and I was 41 at the time—relatively young for a breast cancer diagnosis.
I was scared. As a financial professional, I have often faced such crossroads with clients. Now it was my turn.
Frankly, I knew I had adequate life insurance only because I’m in this industry, but I was still consumed with worry. One of the first thoughts that went through my head when I got diagnosed was, “Do I have enough coverage?” And if I didn’t, then what? Would my husband, Sean, and daughter, Hannah, be OK if something happened to me either now or if I got cancer again a few years from now?
Planning for your future becomes so much more urgent when that future is uncertain. I know there are many people who are not prepared and put off making decisions. It’s something I have seen routinely over the past 20 years of my career.
I speak out about my breast cancer because I think my story can be a wake up call. I’ve seen too many people face tough circumstances and not have enough life insurance, disability income insurance or money saved for college or retirement when that surprise diagnosis gets delivered.
And that’s the point: View my story as a chance to look at your options and take action.
I’d also like to point out that many women believe that if they have breast cancer they are uninsurable. It may not be the case. I was very surprised that within a year of my treatment, I was able to qualify for additional life insurance to protect my family in the event of a recurrence or other unplanned event that could impact them.
If you haven’t done planning or just want to make sure your plans are in good shape, call a trusted financial professional because it is not too late.
Here are some additional tips:
- Find a financial professional who you are comfortable working with who understands your situation and your needs.
- Apply for life insurance—you never know what you are eligible for, even with a history of breast cancer and/or other medical issues, or ask for an informal inquiry to get an accurate idea of what you can qualify for if you were to submit a formal application.
- Review your spouse’s coverage and make sure it is adequate. During this challenging time it is important to make sure everyone is properly protected.
- Work with your financial professional to apply for life insurance on your children to protect their insurability in the event they develop breast cancer or any other medical issues at some point in the future.
It’s never an easy time to plan. But knowing you and your family are in good financial health is one less thing to worry, come what may.
Vlasta Duffy is a general agent with MassMutual, which supports Breast Cancer Awareness, and a managing partner with Integrated Financial Strategies LLC in Scottsdale, Ariz.