Every year, 110,000 new cancer cases are reported in the Philippines. This translates to 11 new cases and 7 deaths every hour for adult cancers. The data is shocking but easy to distant ourselves from, until we or a loved one becomes part of the statistic.
Just last year, my aunt was accidentally diagnosed with Early Stage Breast Cancer at 59 years old. She was on vacation and underwent routine check-up for a visa extension. My first realization is that cancer is not picky, it can choose anyone at any time. It’s like a monster from a nightmare that decides to come in life. The disease made itself feel any more real and close to us.
In a heartbeat, my family and I found ourselves in a flurry of medical decisions that we need to make - fast. Would she need lumpectomy or a mastectomy? After surgery, will she need chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatment protocols? How much will they cost?
There are days when we are more afraid of the costs than the disease itself. A cancer diagnosis does not always mean a death sentence if managed properly - but you do need money to finance it.
Consequently, my second realization is that cancer is really expensive. Surgery and treatment costs have far exceeded our imagination, to think that my aunt’s cancer was caught at an early stage. Even an emergency fund will not make much difference.
Excluding surgery, chemotherapy, and medicines; the bills alone can pile up to PhP 100,000 each month. It can wipe out an entire family’s savings like a category 5 hurricane destroying a house. However, we refuse to let cancer break us. Like many Filipino families do; we shouldered the costs together and chose the best hospital that we can afford.
Seeing the medical bills piling up, my third realization is we need to protect ourselves while we are still healthy. If I could turn back time, I would have given my aunt a critical illness insurance policy. She has done so much for us and I wish I am able to “protect” her in return.
We are now in the fourth month of the therapy, with only two more months to go. The future is bright for her with the new medicine she’s being treated with. We cannot wait for the last time we will go to the chemotherapy session and bounce back from the emotional and financial stress that cancer brought.
*Since writing this piece the author has availed of a SUN Fit & Well Policy for herself and family. SUN Fit and Well is a New Generation Wellness Plan that offers comprehensive life and health protection, giving you and your family comfort and peace of mind in times of great distress caused by a serious illness.