Monday, February 25, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Week 5


My Health

This blog within a blog will discuss cancer and all of my fears, hopes and expectations for a positive outcome—full and complete recovery. In addition, I plan to throw in some latest medical research. All cancer patients are interested, to some degree, in research and the latest medical findings; I am no exception. 

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Let's talk about money, a subject that in previous times was considered rude to raise in polite company. Some still hold that view, but I hold a differing opinion. Seriously, I raise the subject, chiefly because a number of friends have asked how we are doing financially now that I have cancer. The question is valid, since both my wife and I are not currently working, and hence are not earning any income: I for obvious reasons, my wife for other short-term reasons, which will soon become apparent.

So, how are we surviving financially? First the bad and shocking news. We do not have stocks, bonds, insurance policies, offshore accounts, treasury bills, trust funds, upcoming inheritances, private pension plans, money socked away in our mattress, or other financial instruments that we could dip into for a rainy day or an emergency such as we are currently facing. That makes us both foolish and poor planners in the eyes of some, particularly those who have sufficient financial reserves to last a lifetime, or two. Or more.

Our lack of excess financial reserves stands as an indictment against us. We have failed to prepare a nest egg. An emergency fund of six months, as the financial planners say. They say this as a mild rebuke or accusation. Or perhaps not. But what do they know about my situation or that of my family? What do such persons pointing fingers know about how we got into such a situation? Do such persons know about our losses and financial difficulties? About my difficulty finding full-time employment? Were we frivolous in our spending?

Before you answer, consider this salient fact: My wife and I have not taken any vacation since 2003. That's ten years without any break from our routine of working, paying bills and raising children without earning enough to save for such a rainy day. Of course, like many parents, we have placed the needs of our children ahead of ours to ensure that they start off life on sure footing. We have done our best, according to our means, and yet we still retain doubts if we are doing enough. There are many Canadians and Americans in situations similar to ours. Or worse, yes, much worse.

So, yes, we are dipping into our savings, paying our monthly bills, including rent, utilities, food, gas for the car and other expenses necessary for our two boys, including clothes, recreational and educational programs and other necessities of life. (We have no debts, and live on less than $40,000 a year, a figure that might surprise some people.) My wife will hopefully soon return to work as a nurse, once she gets licensed here in Ontario. I am not sure when that will be, but it's not in our hands, is it? Here's a thought for consideration: An individual who isn't gainfully employed is viewed with suspicion in our modern society, viewed in some respects as less of a person. This might explain why many employees are afraid to retire.

Needless to say I have many other (more) important things on my mind. I am thankful, however, that the Ontario government has initiatives like the Trillium Drug Program to help individuals like me pay for a significant proportion of the cost drugs, including anti-nausea medication.

As for earning income, i.e., making money, I hope to find full-time work, despite the fact that the job market doesn't currently favour job-seekers. Even so, and despite my illness, I am applying for all writing, communications, editorial and media jobs that I know or find out about through friends and acquaintances.  Anything to do with writing. (Perhaps someone can offer some suggestions or help direct me in the right way; I am open to suggestions.) I enjoy working, and my two blogs, although without pay for my labours of love, provide me not only great satisfaction, but also a measure of sanity. I remain hopeful though somewhat tired and dispirited.

To those who ask, such is my honest and sincere answer; I doubt if it will please everyone.


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Tomorrow, I undergo blood tests and another chemo session.