Relief for Cancer of the Human Soul

costs of cancerThe Costs of Cancer are Made up of More than Just Hospital Bills.

I signed the check and addressed the envelope and expected a feeling of relief to wash over me. After all, the check represented a huge accomplishment. After twelve years, we had finally paid off cancer.

Paying off cancer. The hospital bills (thanks to our amazing insurance plan) had been paid long ago, of course, but the consumer debt took far longer to pay off because it’s not something that people plan for.

My laundry list of expenses could be exchanged for a list of expenses for a luxurious vacation—only there’s no luxury where cancer is concerned. Plane tickets, eating out in restaurants or hospital cafeterias, hotel rooms, clothing (I had to keep buying bigger sizes for myself and smaller sizes for Pedro), bus fare, rental cars, and train tickets. Every single expense for out-of-town treatment, and none of it enjoyable.

Cancer Doesn’t Only Strike Those Who Live Close to Medical Care

We lived over a thousand miles away from the hospital that saved his life. I lived in two worlds for almost a year. Rapid trips to San Francisco to help Pedro make decisions about treatment and be by his side as he went through chemo treatments. Working full time and parenting on my own in between.

We ended up taking out a loan against my retirement and consolidating our consumer debt in order to ‘pay off cancer.’ I mailed the final check last week, but I don’t feel particularly relieved.

I still feel as if we’re paying—but in different ways. Cancer has cost more than missed work, hospital bills and a few minor lingering effects. Our daughters have had a more difficult time in their teen years than we ever would have wanted them to have. Despite the miracle of their dad’s recovery, they suffer from the trauma of the violence of his illness and the uncertainty of the days when his life hung in the balance.

Cancer’s Payoff

But cancer has paid us well, too. We live with a sense of purpose—God spared Pedro’s life—now what will we do with the miracle? We have learned how to face tough times together and come out stronger. We know about the fragility of the gift of life, and we treasure each moment our family has each other. And we know without a doubt that Jesus paid a bigger debt on Calvary.

Has any kind of cancer ever entered your life?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • What a great post, Anita. And, an encouragement to others walking on the C Road right now.
    Susan Shipe recently posted…five minute friday: reliefMy Profile

  • Tara

    Anita, thanks for continuing to share your story with us. And as Susan said, your story is such an encouragement to others who are walking the C journey.

  • I have never walked the cancer road with an immediate family member, but have watched as it has claimed the lives of friends and extended family and have also seen what it does in the way of making a person and their family pay more than just the hospital bills — even in those cases like your Pedro’s where the patient survives. I am glad that you were able to finally “pay off” cancer but I totally understand why you may not feel so relieved. I know it’s not the same thing, but depression (and other mental illness) often leaves a person and their family in a kind of debt that is beyond the health care expenses. I am thinking in particular of the way you said your children are paying because I know in my experience, my children and my husband in a bigger way, have been greatly affected by the things depression has charged to me or as I like to say, the things it has stolen from me. Perhaps after some time, we will all experience restoration of the good things that these illnesses steal and relief from the bad things they leave behind. God bless you!
    The Momma (aka Therese Moma) recently posted…FMF: ReliefMy Profile

    • Oh, Therese! I understand completely (I’ve been on the depression journey as well). I look forward to the day of ultimate restoration when all things are made new in Heaven. Until then, the journeys with the bumps, bruises, roadblocks and construction are teaching me to lean on the One who sees all and knows all and wants the ultimate best for me.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…How to Hug a Cactus in 5 Simple StepsMy Profile

  • Thanks for continuing to share honestly about your journey. I think so many think once the cancer is ‘cured’ life goes back to being bliss. Sharing your reality and your hope for the future, changed but with purpose, is real and helpful for the rest of us.

  • YES. To all of this. <3
    Laura recently posted…Five Tips On Getting Things DoneMy Profile

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