Held Family Helping Hand

On July 10th my husband Paul was diagnosed with cancer. He was able to work until August, but then the treatments got to be too much and he had to go out on disability.

We knew it would be tough to make ends meet while he wasn’t working, but we had two months worth of savings, and disability usually takes 4-6 weeks to kick in, so we thought we’d be okay. Unfortunately, the oncologist’s office dropped the ball and never submitted their portion, and Paul was denied disability.

After a lot of yelling, and a few tears, I did get the doctor’s office to fax over the documentation.  After a week, I checked with the state, and now they don’t even have his ssn on file, so I’m afraid I have to start over from scratch. 

I realize, when this disability mess finally gets sorted out, the 70% pay will be retroactive, but in the meantime, I don’t know how we are going to make ends meet. 

I’ve cut out all non-essential items (like taking collision off our ten year old car and insurance on our phones). I’ve contacted all our utilities to see if I could get our payments lowered at all, but we still have roughly $3,700 in monthly bills and less than $600 a month coming in from my part-time job. (I have been looking for a full time job since May, but no luck yet.)

For those of you who know me, you know how hard it is for me to even admit I need help, let alone ask for help - I’m always the one helping others, and I figure out our own messes on my own; but this time I realize I can’t do it on my own...

When the disability does kick in, any extra money I can squeeze out of the budget will go to our mounting medical bills (which are not calculated in the monthly amount above, and neither is the student loan payments which are supposed to start in November - but I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a full time job by then). 

Paul’s chemo and radiation are done, and the lastest scan does show the tumors have shrunk, so our next step is a consultation with a surgeon.  Depending on what he says, the next several months may consist of surgery, recovery and rehabilitation, or if the tumor is still inoperable, then he’ll have a year or two of immunotherapy.  No matter what, we still have a long road ahead of us.

**In an effort of full disclosure, I did want to let everyone know we did qualify for charity care at the hospital, but that does not cover everything.

Every time he has to go to the ER, only half his bill is waved, every X-ray, CT, MRI, PET scan is 70% or 80% covered (I can’t remember), Radiation treatments were covered at 90%. I have no idea what the oncologist’s bills are going to be because they haven’t sent one yet, and we haven’t met with the surgeon yet, so I don’t know how that will work either. All the doctors who come to see him while he’s in the hospital or consult with his doctors all bill separately at varying if any discount. Prescriptions aren’t covered at all and they have ranged from $9-$200 a pop.

So although we are EXTREMELY blessed not to have to bear the full brunt of the medical bills, even a percentage of an astronomical bill is still a hefty sum. I just wanted to be completely transparent...
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Christine Held 
Hillsborough Township, NJ
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