I was diagnosed with noninvasive breast cancer in the spring of 2009, and it came as a complete surprise. I have no family history, and I was 41 at the time — relatively young for a breast cancer diagnosis. I was scared.
As a financial professional, I have often faced such crossroads with clients. Now it was my turn.
While I knew I had adequate life insurance (frankly, only because I’m in this industry), I was still consumed with worry. One of the first thoughts that went through my head when I got diagnosed was, do I have enough coverage? And if I didn’t, then what? Would my husband and daughter be okay if something happened to me, either now or if I got cancer again a few years from now? Planning for your future becomes so much more urgent when that future is uncertain.
I know there are many people who are not prepared and put off making decisions. It’s something I have seen routinely over the past 20 years of my career. I speak out about my breast cancer because I think my story can be a wake-up call. I’ve seen too many people face various circumstances and not have enough life insurance, disability income insurance or money saved for college or retirement when that surprise diagnosis gets delivered. I hope they view my story as a chance to look at their options and take action.
Many women believe that if they have breast cancer they are uninsurable. It may not be the case. I was very surprised that within a year of my treatment, I was able to qualify for additional life insurance to protect my family in the event of a recurrence or other unplanned event that could impact them.
I am fortunate to be affiliated with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). In 2011, MassMutual revised its life insurance underwriting guidelines for people who have battled breast cancer based on a review of recent medical research, including changes to the official staging system for breast cancer. The end result: more breast cancer survivors than ever before are likely to be eligible for life insurance coverage, often with lower premiums.
If you have a client who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer or another condition, help them apply for life insurance anyway. You never know what they may be eligible for, even with a history of breast cancer and/or other medical issues. Or ask for an informal inquiry to get an accurate idea of what they can qualify for if they were to submit a formal application.