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Breast Cancer Isn’t the Only Cancer Women Need to Worry About


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January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. I became acutely aware of cervical health in 2021, when I had a hysterectomy. I didn’t have cervical cancer, but doctors did find “cancerous cells.” That was enough to warrant surgery.

This wasn’t a partial hysterectomy, either. As People Magazine quoted me, “I just had my whole f—ing uterus taken out.”

So for obvious reasons, cervical cancer is something I care deeply about. But there are not-so-obvious reasons, too.

As an insurance agent licensed in all 50 states and the founder of a 32-year-old insurance firm, I’ve heard health-related horror stories from hundreds of clients. I wrote about that recently when I said insurance is a matter of life and death.

Cervical cancer isn’t as culturally recognized as breast cancer, and for good reason: According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer killed nearly 4,300 women in 2022, while the CDC says 42,000 women (and 500 men) die each year from breast cancer.

So that’s almost 10 times as many deaths. But cervical cancer still takes a toll on women – and their families. And regardless of your insurance or personal wealth, it takes a financial toll, too.

Awareness isn’t enough

Did you know that January is also Thyroid Awareness Month? In fact, there’s an illness for every month…

  • February: Heart Failure Awareness Month
  • March: Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
  • April: Oral Cancer Awareness Month
  • May: Mental Health Awareness Month
  • June: Migraine and Headache Awareness Month
  • July: Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month
  • August: Immunization Awareness Month
  • September: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
  • October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • November: Lung Cancer Awareness Month
  • December: HIV AIDS Awareness Month

You know what’s missing? The one month that affects them all: Health Insurance Awareness Month. As far as I know, there isn’t one. Since 2004, there’s been a Life Insurance Awareness Month, and many insurance firms tout it. (Here’s how Progressive does it.)

Awareness is important, but it’s not enough. If you live long enough, you’ll know someone who’s faced a health crisis, if you haven’t faced one or more of those yourself. I define a “health crisis” as a health problem so severe, it either costs you more money than you have or prevents you from earning the money you need – or both.

There’s a big difference between “awareness” and “preparedness,” and unfortunately, there’s no way to prepare for a health crisis like you might for a natural disaster. Sure, you should eat right and exercise, but I did those things and still needed a hysterectomy.

The best I could do was catch the problem early. I’m thankful I did. So how would someone “prepare” for such a thing? The answer might sound odd until you think it through: Consult an insurance agent and a debt specialist before you consult a doctor.

Financial health helps physical health

While you never know when an accident or illness might hit you, it’s much easier to prepare your finances – so that during any health crisis, you can focus on yourself instead of your money. And even though health insurance will pay for a lot of treatment, even the best plans won’t pay for everything. So having enough cash on hand can actually help you recover faster.

If you’re healthy right now, then this is the perfect time to do two things. First, meet with your insurance agent and review your health insurance policy. Make sure it’s the right fit at the right price. That includes coverage for prescriptions.

Then, if you’re like 80 percent of Americans who carry some kind of debt, call Debt.com. The best way to pay for your health insurance is by reallocating money that’s going to your lenders. For instance, the average credit card interest rate right now is around 20 percent. If you carry a $1,000 balance each month, well, do the math. That $200 would go a long way to paying your premiums or starting an emergency fund.

I was lucky. My hysterectomy went off without a hitch. I had both the insurance and the cash to cover the costs and the recovery. I’m healthy and deeply appreciative of the medical staff who took care of me and the financial professionals who have educated me over the course of my life.

If you ever need to go through anything like I did – and most of us will at some point – I hope it’s as painless as possible. Physically. Emotionally. And financially.

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