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Change View On Money After Cancer Scare?
Old 01-21-2020, 03:41 PM   #1
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Change View On Money After Cancer Scare?

I am in my late 30s, fairly active and healthy. Went in for my routine annual medical physical last week. Ran thru all routine tests. Received a call back a week later to let me know they detected cancer. Thankfully, it's a very treatable cancer but do need surgery to remove. It's not the type of news I was expecting, esp with no family history. While I have made arrangements for the surgery, I am still processing my emotions.

The whole process got me thinking about my approach with money....I had 2 thoughts that are somewhat opposite of each other.

1) Life can be unexpectedly short, spend money on things that make you happy (food, travel, etc) NOW before the opportunity is taken away from you. Enjoy the fruits of your hard work and living below your means over the years.

2) Save more money for a rainy day. I have 2 young kids and wife at home. God forbid the news was worse if I am not around or physically unable to continue to provide for my family.

For those that have experience unexpected health scare, how did it change your philosophy on money and spending/savings?
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:03 PM   #2
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I am in my late 30s, fairly active and healthy. Went in for my routine annual medical physical last week. Ran thru all routine tests. Received a call back a week later to let me know they detected cancer. Thankfully, it's a very treatable cancer but do need surgery to remove. It's not the type of news I was expecting, esp with no family history. While I have made arrangements for the surgery, I am still processing my emotions.

The whole process got me thinking about my approach with money....I had 2 thoughts that are somewhat opposite of each other.

1) Life can be unexpectedly short, spend money on things that make you happy (food, travel, etc) NOW before the opportunity is taken away from you. Enjoy the fruits of your hard work and living below your means over the years.

2) Save more money for a rainy day. I have 2 young kids and wife at home. God forbid the news was worse if I am not around or physically unable to continue to provide for my family.

For those that have experience unexpected health scare, how did it change your philosophy on money and spending/savings?
Sorry you got hit with this - best wishes for the procedure and recovery! I think the trick is in finding the right balance for point 1)
Concern 2) is less tricky because it can be mitigated entirely (the money part, that is) with appropriate insurance
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:15 PM   #3
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Welcome, yea I went to plan B. Dx with prostate cancer 2 months before my 62 birthday, I had already retired at 54, was waiting until 70 to start taking SS. Ms G and I had talked about loosening the stranglehold on our portfolio for lots more travel after receiving SS. Called and signed up for SS a week later. 7 years now me my doc and I are watching the grass grow with my prostate. Changed my diet lost lots of weight and now I has the prostate of a 40 YO so my PSA tests show. I am lucky that some cancer kill quickly, while others may never be the cause of your demise, I believe I am in the second category. Good luck with your surgery. David
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:39 PM   #4
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I will admit to being the hardest case I have ever met. I have had three different "life altering" medical situations, plus I found out that a former love-of-my life had died years earlier at a very young age. I always said I would ease up. Live a little. Spend some of that money. You're not going to live forever. The usual "new lease on life" stuff you see on TV shows. But within weeks of having dodged the bullet or mentally chewing over the recent events I went right back to my same old self: Parsimonious to a degree that makes even me laugh at it sometimes. Content the way things are. Seeing little to no value in stuff, things, crap, etc. And I don't enjoy traveling. And besides I've already done a lot of that anyway. What else is their to do with money that would make make me happy? A Swedish masseuse twice a week? A nose job? Not much I guess. I just like the peace of mind of knowing I have the money in case I am overcome by events someday and need it. In the mean, I'm the man who has everything.
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:40 PM   #5
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Sorry you got hit with this - best wishes for the procedure and recovery! I think the trick is in finding the right balance for point 1)
Concern 2) is less tricky because it can be mitigated entirely (the money part, that is) with appropriate insurance
Once you have a cancer DX that's not always the case.
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Old 01-21-2020, 05:05 PM   #6
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My first wife died of pancreatic cancer at age 60, about 16 months after diagnosis. We had a lot of fun before she died but I still needed to work for the insurance which was maxed out of pocket for both years.

That was a big factor in my ease of transition from save and invest to blow that dough.
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Old 01-21-2020, 05:20 PM   #7
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Wow so sad Robbie.

It was my otherwise healthy mother’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at 62 and death at 63 that really woke me up about retiring when I felt sure I was sufficiently FI.

Now I just turned 60, gulp!
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:36 PM   #8
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Not much help here, but mostly because of the difference in our ages upon diagnosis. For me, my (very treatable) cancer certainly got my attention! My reaction was more in the spirit of your #1 option: it made me think about early retirement, as I was older than you. If I were your age, I honestly don't know how I would react.
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:51 PM   #9
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My first wife died of pancreatic cancer at age 60, about 16 months after diagnosis. We had a lot of fun before she died but I still needed to work for the insurance which was maxed out of pocket for both years.

That was a big factor in my ease of transition from save and invest to blow that dough.
Same for my wife with esophageal cancer. 566 days from initial Dx to gone. We did lots of stuff. Some travel, vacation house. We were ready to retire & really blow that dough. Now my travel budget goes twice as far traveling as a single.

I don't know the answer to OP question. Probably a balance between the extremes. I will say I was very in the moment for each of those 566 days. One of my regrets is not doing that sooner

Good luck OP & hug your family tonight
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Old 01-22-2020, 07:16 AM   #10
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I've seen it time and time again that people worked until regular retirement age only to have some physical issue change their long term retirement goals.

My wife is a Medical Technologist, and she's one to preach about the need for a high quality yearly physical--including a EKG and chest x rays. She came down with a very aggressive uterine cancer, but it was caught so early that no radiation or chemo was required. That was 14 years ago and she's fairing it well.

We had two friends that were our last two friends that smoked. Both were immensely successful however neither had been going for routine physicals. They found out they were stage IV with lung cancer--the biggest cancer killer of them all. Had they been going for physicals and chest x rays, their prognosis would have been much better. Neither made it 6 months despite the best of medical care--after the fact.
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Old 01-22-2020, 07:53 AM   #11
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I've seen it time and time again that people worked until regular retirement age only to have some physical issue change their long term retirement goals.

My wife is a Medical Technologist, and she's one to preach about the need for a high quality yearly physical--including a EKG and chest x rays. She came down with a very aggressive uterine cancer, but it was caught so early that no radiation or chemo was required. That was 14 years ago and she's fairing it well.

.
How would you detect uterine cancer early? I get the OBGYN check (pap and the exam) every other year, but is that what you're talking about or something more?
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Old 01-22-2020, 10:44 AM   #12
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Capitalhockey,
First, wishing you all the best in your surgery. You wisely have physicals and caught early and treatable. Good!

I think for me this would be a reminder to make sure family is taken care of and reevaluate other priorities- but only because this is wise to do anyway. Same with evaluating lifestyle diet etc with a view toward health. I think you have every reason to expect a long life.

My parents both passed at young ages. This affected my decision to RE (though just at 59) among other reasons. i am not sure it is healthy to plan to not live long, but OTOH I do advocate living life fully. I have tried to live that balance.
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Old 01-22-2020, 11:01 AM   #13
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With my first heart attack last year at 44 years of age, I have started to spend more money. Oddly though I was also able to double my retirement accounts last year due to an over-sized return on a single stock. I think that I am handling things fairly well. My wife is having a much harder time mentally with it. Hang in there! wish you the best.
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Old 01-22-2020, 11:58 AM   #14
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My husband was diagnosed with prostrate cancer at 49. We increased our travel. 3 years later he needed treatment but at age 60 still in remission. I would go for a balanced approach and wishing you a quick recovery.
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Old 01-22-2020, 12:59 PM   #15
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Emergency appendectomy with 5 day hospital stay for peritonitis. Doc said I was down to 12 hours or so, why did I wait so long to get in? Thought I had the flu and didn't realize it was so serious. DW was the one pushing for me to go in, honestly I wasn't in a position to make a good decision.

That was age 39, 20 years ago.

After unexpected layoff at 32 and 4 years working on my own, I was saving at a very high rate. Any raise, bonus, etc. was invested. After surgery did some reevaluation and decided we were in good shape for kids in case anything happened, so started to live it up a little more. Any time I got a bonus or raise, I saved half and did something fun with half. Sometimes a trip, sometimes a toy.

I'd say I split the difference.

In hindsight, all has worked out fine, and I'm glad I spent the money I did on the things I did. We have enough, maybe worked a little longer than necessary. When I look back on the things I spent money on, I smile at the good memories and enjoy the toys I still have, but don't recall the money I spent on them.

And, about 5 years ago, I experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a wasp sting, no idea I was allergic. Another emergency room trip, though I believe I'd have survived this one without the hospital visit. Life can change in an instant, find that balance between saving and enjoying.
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Old 01-22-2020, 01:16 PM   #16
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Op, my 2 cents: Live for your wife and kids. You should be able to get a heck of a lot of enjoyment out of life just doing that. If not, then have a long look in the mirror.

Money-wise, don't be a monk, but plan for your and their future years. You also don't want to screw up and live to be 100 (and be out of money).

Focus-wise, live in the present, and make them your reason for getting up in the morning.
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:05 PM   #17
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I have had two serious illnesses in the last few years and what they taught me is to be real good to the people that helped you through the illness . I lavished them with gifts .It is tough being sick so really appreciate whoever helps you .
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:14 PM   #18
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I was diagnosed at 45 years old, had surgery and a couple rounds of chemo and have been clean ever since. Scare, oh hell yes, but didn't really change my financial planning. I look at like I look at the stock market. Unexpected things will hit you (health scares or market drops....) and you can try to navigate around them, BUT, they CANNOT be predicted, so why bother.

Chart a course, stay alert on the bridge, and enjoy every moment of life's relationships and experiences.

(BTW, reach out on survivor/support forums for your type of cancer, they helped me immensely. Don't ever be afraid to talk about it to anyone, anytime. And best of luck with your treatment......)
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