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Ch-ch-ch-changes
Old 05-17-2012, 01:37 AM   #1
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Ch-ch-ch-changes

I keep vacillating between putting this thread here or in "Health & Early Retirement". On the one hand I can't really say this is about Life after FIRE, because I'm still working, although I may be pulling the plug shortly. Then again, what's prompting me to consider retiring a year sooner than I had planned to is that about 6 weeks ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I had been feeling more and more burned-out at my job anyway, asking myself, why am I continuing to work? Even before I found out the lump was cancer I was strongly considering telling my boss that I had changed my retirement plans from "May 2013" to "as soon as I can sell my house". I talked to several real estate agents at the Home Show back in February, and was told that houses were starting to sell more quickly than they had been in recent years, and this spring might be a good time to put my place on the market. Meanwhile, my mother had broached the idea of my moving in with her for a time, which would let me put my house on the market sooner and reduce the chances that a slow sale would force me to delay my retirement. My father died last December and Mom said she felt like she was rattling around living by herself in the same house. She's probably going to move into a retirement community, but hasn't picked which one yet. Downsizing from her home of 30 years to a maybe two-bedroom apartment is going to be a major undertaking, and I thought I would be able to help her more with that if I was living in the same house than from across town (although I don't know how much help I'll be able to be now). The idea of moving in together for a while sounded like a win-win, and we were just starting to think about the details when I got diagnosed. At that point drastic action was called for, because whether I retire immediately or take a leave of absence from work, I won't have enough income to continue my mortgage payments for more than a few months, so I need to sell the house ASAP. Some friends from the choir helped me move most of my stuff into a storage unit two weekends ago, and I hope to get the house completely emptied out by the end of the month.

So....I'm writing this from the spare bedroom at my mom's house, where I'll be staying during the initial phase of my treatment. I'm scheduled for a mastectomy on June 6, dreading it but not wanting to delay it either. I have never had such a major surgery in my life and have no idea what to expect as far as pain, recovery time etc. I won't know whether chemo will be part of the treatment until after the surgery. I hope I'm not faced with radiation also, as I have something very like a phobia of it, but due to the location of the tumor, I may not avoid it even by having a mastectomy. That also I won't know until after surgery. Then there is reconstruction, which will involve at least one more big surgery and probably one or more lesser operations. The silver lining is that the tumor is small and appears to have been caught at an early stage, so unless something unexpected turns up during surgery I'm told it's very likely I'll make a full recovery, but I am expecting the next year or so to be a real toughie.

I feel like my life has been turned upside down. My mom says "don't burn your bridges behind you". She doesn't see how I could possibly afford to retire at my age, but all the models I've run in FIRECalc and flexible retirement planner, plus a number of financial planners I've talked to through the retirement plan at work and the like, say that with my income and budget I could retire tomorrow and be pretty confident of not running out of money. Frankly, I can't see myself going back to work after treatment. I'm very certain I don't want to, and not sure that I could do my job well again after a lapse of a month or more, even if I wanted to.
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:41 AM   #2
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Sorry to read this. Take care.
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:01 AM   #3
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Damn breast cancer, that truly sucks. Now I feel really dumb thinking you were a man.

I wish the you best and a speeding recovery. Keep in touch as best you can. Although I realize that SWR and pension debates don't seem at all important right now.
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:53 AM   #4
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Very sorry to hear this update... I wish you the best during upcoming weeks/months.

You already probably did this, but... before you retire or quit your job, investigate all the benefits from your employer, i.e. FMLA, short/long term disability, medical coverage, etc. If you were needing individual healthcare policy, but have not purchased, this might a consideration... the longer you can stay on your group plan while on FMLA/leave, the longer you delay cobra, etc. if retiree benefits aren't available to you.
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:56 AM   #5
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Sorry to hear about the cancer. If you leave your job, will you have health insurance coverage?
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:24 AM   #6
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Kyounge1956, sorry about your illness. Hope your treatment is effective and your recovery quick.

Getting your treatment, moving in with your mom and selling your house is a lot all at once. You can always quit your job a month from now. Why not just take some time off while you deal with your health?
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:06 AM   #7
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All my best wishes to you.
Simple Girl had a thread last winter on her treatment. I hope you both will come out well.
Get as much rest and help as possible and focus on your health.
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:17 AM   #8
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Here's wishing you a successful surgery, a quick recovery and an excellent long-term prognosis.
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:23 AM   #9
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I hope things go well for you. It helps not being alone. Cheers!
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:26 AM   #10
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I do hope things work out well for you, hopefully this too shall pass and you can move on from there. The best to you.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:15 AM   #11
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I wish you the best. Breast cancer treatments have come a long way in the past few decades so the odds are good. As Aiming 4 says, carefully check out all the benefits from your employer before retiring.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:27 AM   #12
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kyounge1956, sorry to hear about your trouble and upcoming surgery. Your health comes first and I wouldn't leave your employment just yet. I think you would be better off to just delay that retirement until you have recovered fully as it will take you some time. Meanwhile, I assume you would still have the income and the insurance. DW went through this 25 years ago and we still remember it well. I think being with your mom is a plus. Best wishes on your upcoming surgery and the recovery. I'm sure you'll do just fine.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:42 AM   #13
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1) I agree with Michael B. Deal with your health issues first, before making any significant life-changing decisions.
2) Getting a cancer diagnosis is very scary but please take heart that cancer treatments have come a LONG way. My wife is a 7 year breast cancer survivor and no indication that it will recur. I have a blood cancer diagnosis that I have lived with for 6 years now and have not needed treatment.
Best wishes to you for a quick and relatively easy recovery.
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Old 05-17-2012, 08:31 AM   #14
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Sorry to hear this.

As others have said, keep your options open. And please take care of yourself and your needs first.

Are you eligible for disability pay while on medical leave?

It sounds like you can quit or retire at any time, so there's no need to rush and make such a major decision at the same time that you are dealing with a major medical issue.

It may sound odd, but I found that sometimes it helps to have the distractions and support of people at work while you are going through a major health crisis.

Here's hoping for the best possible outcome for your upcoming surgery.

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Old 05-17-2012, 09:11 AM   #15
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I'm very sorry to hear about this, Kyounge1956! It is time to focus on healing.

My brother was diagnosed with colon cancer about 2 years ago, and his work colleagues have been incredibly supportive throughout his treatment. He was on disability for about one year while he was in treatment. He works at home much of the time now. Yes, he still has his job! He survived radiation and chemo just fine, and is on the road to recovery.

It may be a time in your life to reach out and receive the love and support that manifests from surprising sources (like from those at work).

Best of luck to you and yours,
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:47 AM   #16
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Sending you positive thoughts as you go through the treatments.

And echoing the others that you should consider hanging onto your job and just doing FMLA or disability insurance (if you have it) while you go through the treatment. Stay on your group health insurance as long as you can.

Thank goodness you and your mother have each other for support through these challenges.
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp View Post
Damn breast cancer, that truly sucks. Now I feel really dumb thinking you were a man.
LOL! I had forgotten all about that thread. Or maybe I should really yank your chain and say that I am a man after all. It's much rarer than for women but men can get breast cancer too.

Quote:
I wish the you best and a speeding recovery. Keep in touch as best you can. Although I realize that SWR and pension debates don't seem at all important right now.
Actually, I hope I still do need to be concerned about how long my money will last, because that would mean I'm a long-term survivor.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:05 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by antmary View Post
It may be a time in your life to reach out and receive the love and support that manifests from surprising sources (like from those at work).
+1

I had my own health crisis 9 years ago, while I was still working at [cold, heartless] mega-corp.

I was amazed at the people who literally came out of the woodwork to share their own stories with me and offer support. These were people who I did not know, but heard of my situation through word-of-mouth and sought me out. I was not only touched by their concern but they came through for me with all sorts of connections and information that I would not have had otherwise.

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Old 05-17-2012, 10:08 AM   #19
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Sorry to hear about your problems . I agree with taking one step at a time . Deal with the mastectomy , then deal with your other options . Cancer care has come a long way so this may be easier than you think . One of my friends just went through this and bounced back quickly . I wish the same for you .
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:15 AM   #20
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kyounge1956, I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis! Pretty scary and I agree it sounds like you have some very tough times ahead. I was relieved to read
Quote:
Originally Posted by kyounge1956
The silver lining is that the tumor is small and appears to have been caught at an early stage, so unless something unexpected turns up during surgery I'm told it's very likely I'll make a full recovery
and I hope that is indeed the case.

Meanwhile, I think that moving in with your mother was an excellent idea. The two of you need one another right now, I would imagine. Plus, it will probably be easier to sell the house that way.

Here's hoping for a good surgical outcome.
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