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Lynn’s Story

Lynn’s Story

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Lynn photo

Lynn's Story

When Lynn, a 50-year-old woman living in Minneapolis, went in for what she expected to be a routine colonoscopy procedure in 2021, it turned into anything but routine. The procedure and subsequent diagnostic tests revealed a Stage 1 colon cancer diagnosis, which Lynn’s doctors were able to successfully treat with surgery. Post-surgery, however, Lynn decided to undergo genetic testing for cancer as a precaution, and the results showed that she had a specific gene mutation which put her at high risk of developing a variety of cancers, especially reproductive cancers. After meeting with her oncology team, she began taking measures to preserve her health and potentially save her life, undergoing preventative surgeries including a mastectomy and hysterectomy, to ward off any further cancer from developing.

During this time, Lynn’s focus at first was on staying healthy, not her finances. She was fortunate to have both decent health insurance and an emergency fund to fall back on. While she did have to pay $7,000 in out-of-pocket expenses that first year, she was so thankful that she had that money in the first place to cover the bills.

“Cancer is not something you plan for. I’ve always been a saver, so I had some savings built up. I do have a kid in college whose tuition I am helping cover so I wanted to leave a cushion; however, ultimately, I had to drain my savings to cover my surgery bill. I’m just thankful that between my savings and my health insurance I didn’t end up with a mountain of debt.”

Lynn’s oncology team decided that she should undergo further surgeries in 2022. As these surgeries approached, her mind turned to her finances, specifically what would happen if she were to pass away. In 2021, Lynn’s own mother had passed away, and Lynn found that dealing with practical issues like settling her mother’s estate and accessing her mother’s financial accounts to be extremely challenging and stressful. Having two sons in their 20s, Lynn says, “The experience I had with my mom is not an experience I want for my own children”; however, with so much already on her plate, Lynn knew she needed a trusted expert to help her figure out what exactly needed to be done to get her financial house in order. After hearing about FFP grantee Angel Foundation and their Financial Cancer Care Program through a friend, she reached out and was matched with a CFP® volunteer.

When she first met with the pro bono financial planner, Lynn explained her situation, emphasizing that her primary concern was getting her financial affairs in order for her kids in the event of her death. The planner then helped her make a checklist of all the various financial, legal, and estate planning tasks that would need to be addressed, including updating her health care directive, making her kids her 401k beneficiaries, filing forms at the bank that would give her kids access to her accounts, updating her will and trust, and even simply making sure that all of her life insurance, legal, and financial paperwork was stored in a safe and central location.

As the call wrapped up, Lynn also mentioned a recent experience with the hospital billing department, where she had been encouraged to pay off her surgery bill in full by using a credit card, and had been met with resistance when she asked about a payment plan instead. Lynn says, “What they were encouraging me to do didn’t seem like the most prudent idea. I had already depleted my savings account paying for previous surgeries, so I didn’t want to also have credit card debt on top of no savings”. The CFP® volunteer confirmed that a payment plan was the best choice given her current financial situation and encouraged her to stand her ground on the payment plan. A few weeks after their meeting, the CFP® volunteer followed up to see how Lynn had progressed with her checklist, which Lynn greatly appreciated. “It held me accountable to actually do the action items”.

Today, Lynn continues to take preventative measures to protect her health and has an upcoming surgery in Spring 2023. Having her finances in order has lifted a huge weight off of her shoulders. She says “In the weeks leading up to a surgery, it’s easy to get stuck in your own head and to start chronically worrying. Meeting with the CFP® volunteer and having all of my ducks in a row financially has really helped me to remain calm and relaxed. I don’t want to put my kids through what I went through with my mom, and having everything in order financially allows me to let go of that worry.”

Published on March 22, 2023

“Meeting with the CFP® volunteer and having all of my ducks in a row financially has really helped me to remain calm and relaxed.”
–Lynn

OUTCOMES

Planner helped client to…

  • Prepare a check-list to ensure her finances and estate were in order.
  • Follow through on check-list action items.
  • Confirm she was selecting the most prudent payment option for her hospital bill.