So, heads-up: cancer costs a lot of money. Besides knowing how crucial health insurance is, and how much it affects the jobs my mom can take, if any, I have not really asked about the expenses. See, it’s now a pre-existing condition, and insurance has the right not to cover the treatment my dad needs. Suddenly, when I was home, the reality of insurance, coverage, dependents, spouses (and partners) came crashing down. My mom had some cool job offers. On the plus side, they’re in the medical field, which could mean it is easier for employees to switch, receive benefits, and be set. But just as easily – not. What’s interesting is how much hinges on how good your insurance is. This is something I finally learned at my current (and first) job: a lot of the cost of keeping me on as an employee is the money I don’t “see.” Procedures, specialists, medicines: these all cost money. And so far, knock on wood, the only thing I’ve had to pay is a $20 copay per visit (pretty standard), and a slight cost for medicine I need from the pharmacy. To have someone with years upon years of medical training examine me and tell me how my body is doing. Such as getting the blood test to confirm I didn’t have Lyme Disease after my boyfriend pulled 4 ticks off me. Getting baseline blood tests to see what was “normal” for me, what was high or low, and advice on how to handle it if I needed it.

How much does cancer treatment cost? I don’t know. A lot. Not $500 a lot. Tens of thousands or more, I expect. Hundreds of thousands. How much is still out of pocket? I don’t know. So I was intrigued, then ashamed, of this article I stumbled upon: “When life hands you cancer, make cancer-ade: via lemonade stand, 6yo boy raises $10K for dad’s chemo.” At first I, like the author (kind of) suddenly wondered if I shouldn’t start a lemonade stand for my dad. My parents have helped me with everything: helped pay for a very expensive private college education, added to two years of private boarding school education, my first apartment, a car…I have been incredibly lucky to have such supportive and able parents to aid me in my journey to “adulthood,” whatever that means. They’re still covering student loans for a bit, to help me get started on my own. Hah. I’m hardly on my own yet; I don’t know what I would do without such a family team. I can take my full rent, I can take accountability of my own loans, I can write a check from all I’ve saved up – not knowing if it will make a difference, a dent. Or if it’s unnecessary. Or, more likely, they wouldn’t take it.

But then…why do I have to do this? Lucky for us, this kind of cancer is more common, and the therapy shouldn’t last even half a year. In the article, she writes,

First, hooray for this child. I hope his dad gets the treatment he needs, that the treatment is successful, and that the family doesn’t go into debt or have to forego treatment for lack of funds.

But second: this is a disgrace. I hate it when stories like this are flogged in media as “feel-good” stories. This story should make America feel ashamed, not feel good. Seriously? A working father gets cancer, and the family has to rely on charity, and a lemonade stand manned by their 6 year old son, to obtain life-sustaining medical treatment?

Well, ouch. Here I was full-steam ahead and a brick wall appeared out of nowhere. As @bobrk posted on Twitter (yes, Twitter. Evidently it can be cited in papers now), “@marykvalle @chemobrainfog @xeni My wife’s mastectomy was over $102K Each chemo is $3K or so. Without insurance we’d be bankrupt.”

I…but…it…OK, so this needs to change. Somehow? But it’s not, not right now, and my dad has cancer right now. Now I feel appropriately poor and ashamed, and I am not typically either; I have a job I like and it allows me to pay all my bills and still put savings away, and I’m proud of where I am. Anyone else? Thoughts on this? Mom, Dad, can I write you a check?

Of course, now there’s the “money can’t buy love,” and how cold could I be if that’s what I offer…but, I disagree. As I wrote previously, I wish I could be around more when he is doing radiation, but I don’t live within driving distance anymore, not really, and for my job summer=workworkwork. You never quite know how strange it is to not be able to “just drive home for the weekend” until you can’t. But I digress.

Paying taxes: meh

Tax Season: no fun

Getting money back for the un-fun Tax Season: sweet

Student Loans: no good

Cancer: worse

I’m so confused.