No More Vacations, No More Eating Out…The Financial Burden of Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment

Katie Peterson | Oct 08, 2021 | Stories

Each January I know that I have to come up with $8,000 to $10,000 to meet my health insurance deductible. I am really lucky to have good insurance that covers the majority of expenses for my metastatic breast cancer (MBC) treatment, but the financial burden of my treatment hasn’t been without impact.

I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in 2009. I was also pregnant with our third child and between eight and 10 weeks along. My oncologist told me that if we didn’t terminate the pregnancy, my husband, Brent, would be raising three kids on his own by the end of the year.

The estrogen and progesterone my body was producing to grow the baby was also fueling my breast cancer, and the tumor grew considerably in size in just a week. I know that we made the right decision to give up our baby, because I’m still here today and able to raise our two boys.

Six years later, I was cheering on one of our sons at a football game, and when I tried to yell, my voice made a really weird squeaking sound. The volume of my voice also appeared to be capped and I couldn’t shake a cough that had lingered for weeks. I didn’t know it at the time, but my breast cancer had returned.

Scans showed there were tumors behind my sternum, in my spine and in some of my ribs. I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer just six years after thinking I had successfully been treated for early-stage breast cancer.

One of the best parts about finishing treatment for early-stage breast cancer in 2011 was that we would be able to afford family vacations and have money in the bank. We could take the boys out to dinner and spend money on even the small things that bring us joy.

Each chemotherapy treatment I needed for MBC cost us between $40,000 and $50,000, and I needed them almost weekly. The cost added up quickly, and even though insurance covered most of the bills, we were still responsible for meeting our annual deductible.

That meant we would always have to be in save mode. There wouldn’t be any more family vacations, no more eating out. It interrupted everyone’s lives.

We’ve been able to get through my metastatic breast cancer because of my attitude. I haven’t given up and it is having a huge effect on my body and my overall happiness. If you wake up and say, “It’s gonna be a good day,” then it’s totally gonna be a good day.

Spending time with my family makes me the happiest. My husband is a wonderful provider and just my best friend in the whole world. My boys, now 15 and 17, make me laugh so much. The impact of MBC on my family has been pretty extreme but I smile because I have so much to be thankful for. I’m still here and I shouldn’t be.

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.

**Support for Metastatic Breast Cancer Week comes from Merck.