Financial Planning for Cancer: Program Gives Family Hope For Brighter Financial Future
Tracy McGarry was flexing her proud mom skills as she cheered on her son at his basketball game back in June 2017. Unfortunately, her animated support led to a back injury that revealed devastating news: She had weakened bones because of cancer.
Diagnosed with high-risk multiple myeloma, Tracy began a treatment plan involving intensive inpatient and outpatient chemotherapy, a stem-cell transplant, and complications due to fevers, difficulty entering remission, and unplanned hospital admissions. As her body took a beating, so did her family’s finances.
Facing physical and financial hardships
Like many families in their position, the McGarry’s quickly found themselves struggling with lost income and increased expenses due to Cancer-Related Financial Toxicity (CRFT). Before Tracy’s diagnosis, the McGarry’s were a middle-class, dual-income family. However, cancer made it so that Tracy couldn’t work during treatment and her husband, Mike, frequently took days off of work to care for her and their two boys.
“For the first 6 months after Tracy was diagnosed, we were fighting [to survive] day to day,” Mike shared. “She couldn’t walk and was on heavy chemotherapy treatments. She hasn’t been able to work and at this point doesn’t qualify for disability.”
Despite having health insurance through Mike’s job, the McGarry’s were hit with high out-of-pocket costs for Tracy’s care, such as in-home caregivers during her recovery and counselors to help her manage side effects like anxiety and depression. Mike worked as much as he could to keep the lights on at home, but the McGarry’s still struggled to manage their everyday bills on top of cancer costs.
Working toward a brighter financial future
To help manage their finances during such a difficult time, the McGarry’s participated in Family Reach’s Financial Planning for Cancer, a program created in partnership with the Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA). The program matched them with Brittany, a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, who gave them expert financial guidance and support. With her help, the McGarry’s began actively and strategically addressing the debt they had accrued since Tracy’s diagnosis.
“I feel like the most value I’ve added is keeping the McGarry’s from making other financial mistakes while they attempted to fix their current situation,” said Brittany, who advised them not to take money from their retirement accounts to pay off their consolidated debt.
Mike agreed, describing how Brittany has helped them “keep up with the bills and set financial goals going forward.” He also emphasized how meaningful it was to have a trusted advisor who cares about his family and can guide them during an immensely challenging time.
The McGarry’s sessions with Brittany further prevented them from reaching critical financial breaking points, which is one of the program’s major goals in helping families manage money during cancer treatment.
Through Financial Planning for Cancer, families like the McGarry’s receive hope for a brighter financial future as well as a trusted advisor that they can rely on to alleviate the financial side effects of their diagnosis.
Over 100 thought leaders came together for a collaborative think-tank event that propelled the fight against financial toxicity caused by cancer.
Shortly after Michael’s cancer diagnosis, financial worries began to burden his family. Working with a free financial planner relieved some of the stress.
Thanks to our generous community, Hope for the Holidays 2019 raised an incredible amount to support families facing the financial barriers of cancer.