How cancer affects our finances

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I used to think that the *theme* of my 30’s was to retire early. That I would be strong, and smart, and work a decade to make that all happen. But now I know that early retirement is only a sub-theme. The real theme to my 30’s is to live a healthful, anti-cancer life. Which includes early retirement.

Neither Mr. German or I had any first or second hand experience with cancer. It was always that awful disease that happened to someone else, far removed from us. While our hearts went out to people, it didn’t hit us until it hit us. In my case, it happened to hit my rock – the love of my life; my best friend.

2 years ago, Mr. German was diagnosed with a cancer that had spread. He had emergency surgery and chemotherapy. Everything was fine afterward. He recovered and we made some big changes to our lives.

  • We got married
  • We moved in together
  • Mr. German turned vegan

Since this is a personal finance blog, I want to give a snapshot of how cancer has affected our finances.

At the time, we were living 70km apart and only seeing each other on weekends. We had our own apartments and expenses. When Mr. German went on sick leave, he started getting ~60% of his income paid through his insurance, which thankfully covered all of his expenses.

My income dropped 80%. I practically stopped working so that I could take care of Mr. German. Luckily, I worked for a small company that was very understanding, and they gave me the flexibility I needed. Working on 20% of my income was not enough to cover my expenses, so I happily dug into my savings. (yay to having savings!)

Now, fast forward 2 years. I changed jobs to be closer to Mr. German, and we moved in together 6 months after getting married. Our expenses more than halved, because it’s so much cheaper to live together than to live apart. My income also rose (due to the job change), and Mr. German’s income fell (strict doctor’s orders to not travel for work = no travel stipends). We fell into a nice groove of saving 65% of our take home pays.

In total, insurance covered all of Mr. German’s treatments, but we were not able to save money during that period (about a year). That’s more than great for us. Money was the last thing we were thinking about anyway.

We’re not done yet. Mr. German has been going for regular monitoring and in his last ultrasound, it was discovered that he has another tumour that has blood vessels going to it. It’s an early discovery, and the prognosis is good.

This time, Mr. German wants to do things differently. While it’s still early stages, he has made the decision to forgo surgery and other conventional treatments for now.

Insurance will cover all conventional treatments, but will only cover up to 500 EUR of alternative treatments per year (depending on what it is). We’re still investigating what’s out there, so don’t know what the costs will be. But we do know they will be out-of-pocket.

Last time we didn’t make any changes to Mr. German’s diet, because his oncologist’s advice was to eat the same way. But with all this hard evidence linking cancer to diet, Mr. German switched to a vegan diet about a year ago, and is now on an organic, raw vegan diet with an emphasis on the strongest cancer fighting foods.

Previously we ate only the easy-to-find organic produce from the regular supermarket. They only stock organic potatoes, apples, bananas, and carrots – which is a good start but not enough for us. Now everything has to be organic, and we’re going out of our way to find it (organic supermarkets, organic farms). While we haven’t totalled it up yet, it looks like our grocery bill will exceed our rent!

If you’ve read this far, thank you! In the next while I will be MIA. I devote my time to helping Mr. German and researching cancer. We’re also looking for a good Heilpraktiker/in or Artzt/in that specializes in alternative cancer therapies. We live in the Ddorf region. If you happen to know someone, please contact me.

Much love, Jessica

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11 thoughts on “How cancer affects our finances

  1. Wow, I feel for you guys – that’s horrible to have cancer affecting your lives, especially when you are so young. I have no experience with cancer sufferers at all, but I hope that the alternative treatments are successful rather than needing to go down the surgery/chemotherapy path.

    Things like this really do give a different perspective on the whole FI/RE concept – you really are trying to focus on making the most of your life rather than subscribing to the mindless consumerist path.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you IA. 🙂

      Funny thing is, I think we are the best people to get cancer. We know how to handle it, we don’t have children, we are a strong team, and we are financially stable. We feel great, actually. A bit stressed sometimes but we work through it together.

      This episode certainly makes me look at FIRE-ing maybe earlier than planned. Health is THE #1 priority, and while our careers are pretty low-stress (relatively speaking), it still takes up the best parts of the day where we could be doing more healthful things. Sitting in front of the computer and not having access to good foods (unless we do serious preparations) is not how I want to live life for much longer.

      Obviously now we need our jobs to pay for Mr. G’s upcoming treatments and our other expenses, but I’m pretty sure if we pared down a bit, we could practically FIRE. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. So sorry to hear that Mr. G has had a recurrence! What a hard thing to deal with. I highly recommend practicing yoga and meditation during this stressful time, as much to help cope with the fear and stress of it all as to fight the cancer. Sending you guys lots of good energy!

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. although I have no experience with cancer, what I see from friends who went through it (and are fine now) is that what matters most is your attitude: be positive, be optimistic. As you mentioned, you are probably the best people to go through this. Having no kids and no financial problems is key. We wish Mr German all the best! As we say in hungarian: “eröt egészséget” (have strength and health)!
    Mr W

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I will attempt to repeat your Hungarian phrase to Martin.

      Yep, a big component to getting well is the desire to live. We are generally a sunny couple, and now our new lifestyles support us. It’s wonderful!!

      Like

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