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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Content Overview

Post Treatment For Breast Cancer 0 - 6 Months



It takes time after treatment ends to recover physically, emotionally and financially. How much time, and what happens in the meantime, is as individual and unique as each of us are. (It may help to know that most women report high levels of functioning and quality of life one year after breast surgery, regardless of whether they received a mastectomy or a lumpectomy.)

We recommend that you at least skim the following content to get an overview, then return to each subject if and as it works for you. Each subject starts with a summary. Links take you to more information. For instance, to form letters and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

The basics

  • Give yourself time to recuperate.
  • Let family members, friends and co-workers know you are still recovering. This may not be apparent when you begin to look like your former self. Continue to ask for help as you need it.
  • Do your best to keep a realistically optimistic attitude. We refer to this as a "positive attitude." There's a reason for the adage "the glass is always half full and half empty." Try to focus on the half full side. See: A Positive Attitude (And How to Keep It)
  • When you have contact with your employer, an insurer, or government agency:
    • Keep in mind that honey it is best to be courteous and friendly.
    • Always get the name and/or i.d. number of the person with whom you speak.
    • Make notes.
      • Note the day and time and what was said.
      • Keep your notes in the file with whatever subject you're calling about.
    • Keep a photocopy of all forms you complete.
    • If you mail anything that seems important:
      • Include a cover letter with a date.
      • Keep a copy. Attach a copy of the cover letter to your copy of the form.
      • Send it by a delivery system that provides delivery receipts such as certified mail, return receipt requested or, by overnight. Note on your copy of the letter the receipt number so there is proof what was included in the particular envelope. Keep the receipt with your copy of the letter or document.
    • When you are told things must be done by a deadline, note the deadline in your diary -- and finish on time.
    • After each conversation, make sure you are in sync with the other person by repeating what is to be done, by whom, and by when.
    • Make an alert to follow up to be sure the other person does what he or she agreed to do.
    • Follow up on the day of your alert.


  • In the short term, there may be depression instead of the relief or high you may expect at the end of treatment. Emotions which have been held in check since diagnosis have an opportunity to surface. The constant reassuring words from the cancer center staff will mostly be gone. You are suddenly left on your own to deal with uncertainty and fear, ongoing physical and emotional issues, and may even be continuing anti-cancer therapy.
  • Emotional swings can continue for years. The severity of emotional swings generally lessens over time, but can surface at unexpected times.
  • There is generally the fear of your breast cancer returning, or another cancer appearing. The fear can pop up unexpectedly, or be triggered by symptoms such as a flu. (To learn how to deal with fear, click here.)
  • You also likely feel out of step with the healthy world.
  • For Additional Information, see: Breast Cancer: Post Treatment 0 - 6 Months: Emotional Well Being

Physically: There may be physical disfigurement to live with, at least on a short term basis if you are undergoing reconstruction. Fatigue and/or chemo brain may continue for a while. Some effects may not show up until years after the end of treatment. If they do, speak with your doctor.


Work issues

The discussion about work issues is divided to suit your situation. Please click on the link that applies to you.

Financially: It is time to focus on paying off your medical bills and other debts and to get your finances in order to withstand the possibility of a recurrence or other expense. The same kind of planning will also help you meet your retirement and other goals. For information, see: Breast Cancer: Post Treatment: Finances

On a day to day basis:


  • If you do not have health insurance:
    • Do whatever you can to get it. Despite your recent health history, there are a variety of ways to get health insurance. The easiest is through a group plan offered by an employer or membership organization. The larger the employer, the more likely it will have an employee health plan
    • Each employer and/or each plan may have different rules regarding eligibility of dependents for coverage. Most include children and the spouse of the employee; some may include domestic partners as well.
    • To learn how, see: How To Obtain Health Insurance
    • Once you get health insurance, learn how to maximize use of it.
  • If you have health insurance:
    • Insurance protects against losses that the average person cannot bear alone. It is important for everyone to have basic insurance. The need is even greater after a diagnosis because it is likely harder for you to recoup in the event of a large loss.
    • You are not likely to be able on your own to purchase Disability Income Insurance which provides an income if you become unable to work or Long Term Care Insurance to cover in case you need long term care. You may be able to obtain such coverage from an employer such as the government. (You may also be able to qualify in time.)
    • Do your best to carry basic insurance such as Homeowners Insurance (either the variety for an owner or for a renter). If you own a vehicle, carry at least Automobile Insurance in the amount required by your state. The longer the period after your episode of cancer, the more likely you will also be able to get Disability Income Insurance and/or Long Term Care Insurance.

Planning Ahead:

  • If you haven't before, now is a good time to get your legal affairs in order. While you are thinking about it, this would be a good time for your entire family to focus on these subjects. Stuff can happen to any of us at any time. (Shifting the focus to the family unit also takes away any fear on their part that you are taking these steps because ofprostate cancer news that you are not sharing).
  • At the least, execute documents known as Advance Healthcare Directives which let you stay in control of the medical care you do or do not want if you become unable to speak for yourself or become unconscious. The documents are free and don't require a lawyer. (Consider suggesting that the person charged with enforcing your advance directive(s) read:How To Enforce Advance Health Care Directivesr
  • If you have children, make plans in case you are temporarily or permanently unable to care for them. See Children 101
  • Consider creating something like an Ethical Will. which tells your children what you learned during your lifetime and family history. Or perhaps a video or photo scrap book of your times together.
  • Keep control of what happens to your assets if you die by at least having a will. Wills also help prevent family fights. Wills are not expensive and may even be free. We provide tips about helping to make your will challenge proof.
  • Thinking about, and talking about, funeral plans will save unnecessary stress and a good deal of money.
  • NOTE: Check all documents, securities accounts and banks accounts with beneficiaries on them to be sure:
    • The beneficiary you want is listed.
    • If there is more than one beneficiary, the split between them is clear.

Government Benefits

  • You may be entitled to government benefits such as an income, health insurance or food stamps depending on your particular circumstances.
  • There are no government benefits which distinguish between breast cancer and other health conditions.
  • To learn about government benefits for which you may qualify, or which you should at least know about "just in case", see: Government Benefits

For Additional Information:

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