Free Financial Coaching Was “Invaluable” for This Young Family Living With Cancer
Building their life with two young children, Peter and Katie never expected to add cancer to the mix. Yet everything changed in June 2018 when 37-year-old Peter was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain cancer.
Peter completed treatment successfully and then, sadly, relapsed in November 2018 and faced another recurrence in July 2020.
With ongoing care necessary for Peter’s advanced diagnosis, the young family struggled to envision a stable future.
“It’s difficult to plan with my husband’s diagnosis, but after the initial shock, it was time to start paying bills and get our finances back on track,” Katie explained.
As Katie understandably worried about her family’s financial health, Family Reach introduced her to a free financial coach so that she wasn’t alone in dealing with the many costs of a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer treatment with financial side effects
Glioblastoma is one of the most complex and expensive cancers to treat, so Peter has a robust care team with oncology, neurology, and therapy expertise. Currently, his treatment includes rigorous immunotherapy infusions twice a week as well as occupational, physical, and speech therapy.
Due to the challenging side effects of brain cancer and his demanding treatment plan, Peter is unable to work. Katie was working full-time, though she changed career paths for a more flexible part-time schedule that can accommodate the demands of caregiving and parenting. She’s back to full-time hours now, though still maintains the flexible schedule.
Wearing many hats for her family, Katie searched for advice on how to manage the financial impacts of a cancer diagnosis.
“I was able to handle it on my own for about a year, but treatment expenses began to pile up and I was finding that the typical financial advice didn’t take into account the nuances of a young family and an advanced cancer diagnosis,” she said.
For Katie and Peter, those financial nuances included childcare costs, tuition expenses, less savings, and the overall effects of juggling parenthood with cancer and a significant loss of income. Katie doesn’t receive benefits from her employer, so she also accounts for out-of-pocket expenses for her family’s health insurance.
Though everyone’s cancer experience is different, Katie and Peter are not alone in these challenges. The majority (92%) of the families we support have lost income since treatment began and as a result, struggle to afford their basic needs and medical expenses.
This is why our comprehensive Financial Treatment Program is here to help. In this case, our financial coaching service could provide the personalized support Katie needed.
Financial coaching provides “invaluable” support
Developed in partnership with the Foundation for Financial Planning and Financial Planning Association, financial coaching pairs families with a pro-bono Certified Financial Planner™ professional (CFP®) for free advice and recommendations.
When Katie applied to the Financial Treatment Program, our team quickly matched her with Ryan Garland, CFP®, for help with budgeting, prioritizing expenses, and considering what Peter’s various diagnosis possibilities could mean for the family financially.
Why Pro-Bono Financial Coaching is Critical During Cancer Treatment
After meeting with a financial coach that understood her situation, Katie felt an overwhelming sense of relief.
“It felt great to have a kind, supportive financial coach to bounce questions off of and consider various aspects of our family budget,” Katie said. “Ryan really understood that the goals of our unique situation would be different from other families.”
Katie and Ryan worked together to create a worksheet that covered everything from transportation and prescriptions to babysitters and insurance premiums. Ryan further shared resources specific to families facing cancer and helped Katie balance short- and long-term expenses for her kids with the treatment-related expenses.
“Financial coaching is a free service delivered with trust, empathy, and support,” Katie said. “I could ask the ‘tough’ financial questions that I didn’t feel comfortable asking friends and family.”
A true team effort, Ryan noted that Katie’s level of organization and engagement made it easy to connect her with the advice and resources she needed.
“All credit goes to Katie and her family — she was unbelievable to work with,” Ryan said. “Plus, I think it really hit home seeing a young family, like my own, facing such a difficult challenge.”
Cancer can have emotional and financial impacts on any family and we’re grateful to our volunteer financial coaches for being listening ears and trustworthy advisors who help weather the storm.
“Family Reach was a critical resource to us during this challenging time,” Katie said. “Our financial coaching session was invaluable — I wish I could have met with our coach earlier on in the process.”
Always walking the fine line between her right and left brain, Stevie brings her creative and strategic thinking to her role as Senior Creative and Brand Manager. Her work amplifies Family Reach’s voice and brings attention to the financial impacts of a cancer diagnosis.
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