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Anyone decide to ER and have health issues pop up?
Old 02-19-2014, 08:55 AM   #1
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Anyone decide to ER and have health issues pop up?

I decided to ER (Jan 2015) last fall. I was super excited about one more year then travelling, having more time to ride my bike, go to the kids, games, and just relax.

Almost as soon as my wife and I made that decision I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Early stage, highly curable. 6 months of chemo and then 6 months of work to retirement. No problem.

Now I am 1 month into chemo and out of no where my doctors think they have now found a significant heart problem despite my good health, diet, exercise, etc. I am meeting with the heart surgeon but it looks like there is a good chance I will have to undergo open heart surgery now too!

So in a couple months I go from a healthy bike racing 53 year old early retiree to a cancer patient with a dangerous heart.

Early retirement is still what I dream about when I feeling like crap during chemo but now I worry it could be a very different type of retirement.

Has anyone else gotten to the threshold of retirement and then faced these big health challenges? How do you deal with it emotionally?

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Old 02-19-2014, 09:16 AM   #2
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I missed your earlier posts and just want to say I hope your treatments are going well and by the time your ER date rolls around, your health issues will be treated and you will resume your active lifestyle. Keep us posted if you like.

My sister-in-law is doing well after being treated for lung cancer, diagnosed four months after she retired. She said at the time she was so glad she had things set up financially re her teachers pension and retiree health insurance for her and her husband, who has not yet retired. She is a very positive person and would have seen a silver lining as well had she not already retired. You sound like you have put a lot of thought into your planning and I hope all goes well for you.

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Old 02-19-2014, 09:28 AM   #3
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Can't offer any advice as I haven't had the misfortunate cards you've been dealt. On the positive side, as you've said the HL is highly treatable, and given that your heart issue has been caught, and is also likely highly treatable, you'll in all likelihood have many years to look forward to all the things you've written of. The fact that you've been active and taken care of yourself bodes of luck.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:32 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum and I certainly wish you the best as you deal with your medical issues. The short answer to your question is no I did not experience big health challenges after being on the threshold of retirement. I did have some medical issues surface about 5 years before I decided to ER and that played into my decision to ER. One obvious question is your health insurance coverage after you retire. And you may need to put aside a little extra cash. How stressful is your job and do you think that has been a major contributing factor to your illness?
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:45 AM   #5
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Never experienced anything like that. But, as an avid cyclist, I sometimes wonder how I would fare emotionally if a health issue forced me to stop riding. From everything I have read I gather that most people adapt well when such set backs occur. But such concerns may be premature. Hopefully, this will be a temporary setback followed by a gradual return to the activities you prize.
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by jabbahop View Post
Has anyone else gotten to the threshold of retirement and then faced these big health challenges?
Although DH was retired a year and a half before he was diagnosed with cancer, his situation was/is very close to yours. Later on he developed problems with his heart. I'm pleased to say both issues (at the moment) are at bay.

His favorite hobby is riding his motorcycle. At some point due to illness or slower reaction time, he'll have to give it up.

The thing is, as life goes by our interests change and more than likely something new will come along to occupy our time.
How do you deal with it emotionally?
We're still dealing with the ups and downs. Keeping communication open is the key in our experience. ..and being thankful for what is good in our life.
There's no need to complicate, our time is short..
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:34 PM   #7
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It'd be easier to deal with health issues when you are not tied down with a job. If you can swing it financially, I'd still recommend going ahead with RE. Good luck and best wishes.
Pura Vida
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:46 AM   #8
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Welcome, sorry to hear of your health issues.

Mine are not near as serious. I pulled the plug 5/1/13, around October 13 got a bizarre case of vertigo. My days are full of PT, I could have never continued working.
Best wishes,
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Old 02-20-2014, 10:00 AM   #9
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Your worry that it could be a very different kind of retirement is perfectly valid. It happened to me. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2012, which was about 15 months before I planned to ER. I continued to work on a reduced schedule during my initial treatment. In February of last year I found out that the cancer had progressed to other organs, and now after some milder treatments failed to halt progression, I am back on chemotherapy, and probably will continue to be for some time to come. By the time I got the stage IV diagnosis, it was too late to retire more than a few weeks earlier than I had originally planned to. I let my own wish to save a little more and my mom's "don't burn your bridges" advice sway me, but looking at it with 20-20 hindsight, I should have retired immediately after my diagnosis. I could have used that year to get my yard into a form that I could care for even with treatment-related fatigue. Now, I literally don't know whether I will ever be able to do so. I should instead have listened to my younger brother, who also had cancer (of which he has since died). He said, "go for it" even before we knew my disease was so advanced.

I don't know about Hodgkins lymphoma specifically, but my (probably biased) opinion of cancer is: don't trust it. At the time of my initial diagnosis, I was also thought to have "early stage, highly curable" cancer. Cancer can come back at any time and turn everything upside down, including drastically decreasing the amount of time you can expect to enjoy your retirement from a few more decades to a few more years.

This is the question I would suggest you ask yourself: what will I regret more, if I retire now and the cancer doesn't come back, or if I keep working and it does?
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Old 02-20-2014, 10:33 AM   #10
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Sorry to hear of your health issues. It certainly makes planning and dreams change. Look at being ER'd as the best thing you did, now able to devote all your time to getting better. Recovery can be your new short term goal without having to go to work.

In general, having a health issue is the biggest reason why I am determined to get out and retire soon as I am financially comfortable to do so. You never know what can happen that will take away your dreams and goals. Or significantly change them due to health issues that crop up like you have had occur.
I used to have a handle on life....... but it broke!

Semi-Retired 7/1/16: working part-time (60%) for now
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:17 AM   #11
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My problem is certainly less severe than yours, but still has caused a major change in lifestyle which I'm still coping with. There is a mourning period with long term medical diagnoses. However, your issues, while worrisome, should respond well to treatment and you should be able to return to bicycling once it all gets sorted out. Happily, the ACA will enable you to continue purchasing HI even after you retire.
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Old 02-20-2014, 12:46 PM   #12
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Here's hoping for a good recovery from both problems.

My own cancer at age 53, caused me to retire because I was in the midst of expanding my own business and taking on more pressure and dollar risk. Because of not wanting to unload these liabilities on DW, it was decision point. At the time chances of colon cancer recurrance was relatively high. so we took the chance of trying to retire early, even though we weren't really financially ready.

The good news is that we made it both ways... financially ok, and so far, pretty good health. That's 25 years later. Wishing you the same good fortune...

No question, a time of great anxiety... but during the interim, we put our energies to work in positive planning for the future. It helped.
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Old 02-20-2014, 05:04 PM   #13
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First, I am sorry you are having to deal with such difficult news. Hopefully, it will prove to be a blip on your timeline. I, too, upon ER had a serious medical scare. I had a skiing accident six months into my ER that caused a right vertebral dissection, which in turn caused a series of strokes. Fortunately for me, I was very lucky as to blood flow in the brain: the clods not centering on critical functions. Some 18 years later I'm still going strong as I'm sure you will be as well.

I do remember thinking as I lay in hospital that if things didn't go well for me at least the last thing I saw before I had my stroke was the Grand Teton and not my asshole boss on Wall Street!
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Thanks to all for the advice and support
Old 02-21-2014, 06:56 AM   #14
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Thanks to all for the advice and support

With three teenagers (the oldest heading to college next year), I am reluctant/scared to pull the plug now. There are some options coming due next year that make it worth holding out and my company has been very understanding about missing days during treatment.

In reality even if I retired today, my day to day wouldn't be much different until June when I finish treatment.

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