Breast Cancer Is No Slam Dunk

Posted on: May 26th, 2016 by

I recently met with advisors regarding financial planning, something so many ordinary people ordinarily do. These gentlemen seemed to care about me, as they assessed my current financial status and my future financial plans.

But, of course, there’s a sales pitch.

There always is.

They recommended I purchase excellent, fantastic, stupendous life insurance. Although I have life insurance at my place of employment, these advisors suggested I obtain additional life insurance. After they rattled off all the different life insurance companies they work with — and after my brain stopped spinning — I asked the question my inquiring mind wanted to know: How expensive is additional life insurance?

“Well…um…that depends,” said one advisor.

The other chimed in, “Well, you are relatively healthy, so it would be reasonably priced for you. It’s only more costly if you’ve had a history of diabetes, cancer, heart problems, and so on. You’re not a smoker, are you?”

“No,” I said, as my mind had stopped at the word “cancer.”

“Good,” they both chimed in in unison, figuring that selling me life insurance was a slam dunk.

“But I’ve had cancer,” I said.

They were taken aback and looked shocked. I could feel what they were thinking: how could someone who looked healthy and younger than my age have ever had cancer? (Come to think of it, what does a person who has had cancer look like?)

Then our conversation took a turn for the worse, as they regrouped and launched into their sales pitch again.

“Can I ask what kind of cancer you had?” said one advisor.

“Yes, breast cancer.”

They both smiled with relief. “Well,” said the other advisor, “Insurance companies look at the type of cancer you’ve had when making their determination, and I can tell you that breast cancer is generally not a problem.”

“But you don’t know the nature of breast –,” I replied, as they cut me off.

“It’s no matter. If you’ve had breast cancer and a doctor’s note saying everything is now fine, most life insurance companies will be fine with this. How long ago did you have breast cancer?”

“Fifteen years ago.”

“Fifteen years?” they both said, beaming. “Well, if you’ve had breast cancer 15 years ago, you should have no problem getting life insurance. If it was a year or two ago, you’d encounter more difficulties.”

All I could think of at that moment was Jody Schoger, who was supposedly NED (no evidence of disease) for 15 years and who recently died of metastatic breast cancer.

My thoughts were interrupted by the two men who joyously believed they had a sale. And worse yet, these individuals believed that breast cancer was the “good” cancer and that having been diagnosed and treated 15 years before for breast cancer was no big deal. At all.

They had a cavalier attitude toward the source of my and others’ suffering. They believed that having had breast cancer 15 years ago was a slam dunk in the life insurance world. Heck, a slam dunk in life in general.

Slam Dunk

To that, I call bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

This dismissive, insensitive attitude is pervasive in our culture: breast cancer is the good cancer.


Breast cancer is the sissy cancer.


Once a person has passed the five-year mark, it’s all systems go.


Like I fire doctors whom I deem harmful to my emotional and/or physical health, I fired these advisors. I thanked them for their time and left, with no intention of ever coming back.

I’ve had enough with financial advisors. Instead, I just bought a book on financial planning. After all, I’d rather turn pages than turn into an idea of what a breast cancer survivor should be.

Have you encountered that attitude that breast cancer is the good, easy cancer?

If you have done financial and/or retirement planning, have health issues come up and, if so, how was it handled?

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10 Responses to Breast Cancer Is No Slam Dunk

  1. Kimberly had this to say about that:

    *Stands & applauds*

  2. Rebecca had this to say about that:


    I am trying to get life insurance through Aflac, through my company, and they are rejecting me (although I’ve reached my 5 year mark). I might need to look into this topic more.

    It’s crazy that we still have people believing any type of cancer is ‘the good kind’. They all kill! But let’s talk breast cancer, there are 108 women who die from this disease daily. Oh wait! We don’t promote these facts. We only portray BC as a ‘pink’ celebration. So no wonder why those guys reacted the way they did with you.I am sorry you had to deal with that. There is not enough awareness about MBC, sadly.

    I’ve had people tell me that I have the “good kind” of cancer. I just tell them that if they ever find a lump in their breast not to ignore it thinking it’s the good kind. I am so tired of such comments I mostly walk away now.

    Good luck finding the right insurance. Please keep us posted on how that goes. I know so many patients are interested but wouldn’t necessarily know how to go about it.

    Take care. xo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Rebecca,

      I’m so sorry that Aflac is rejecting you. I would definitely keep pursuing life insurance — maybe looking outside of your company? There’s a really good organization called Cancer and Careers, and they might give you helpful advice on how to obtain life insurance.

      And you are right: people who say any cancer is the “good kind” of cancer are clueless. I can’t believe this idea persists. Breast cancer kills. And survivorship is no picnic.

      Thank you for your comment.

  3. Rebecca had this to say about that:

    Beth, I am familiar with this organization. Thank you for sharing. They are having their conference in NYC this June. Sadly, I won’t be around to attend. But I’ve already contacted them about other things. I am def. going to be exploring my options for life insurance. Will keep you posted. You do the same too. Hugs.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Rebecca, I’m glad you are not giving up on life insurance. Keep looking. I always want to attend their conference (they had one in Chicago this year), but I was unable to attend.

      Good luck; there must be a life insurance policy for you.

  4. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    Good for you for firing those guys. There does continue to be a cavalier attitude out there about the seriousness of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the good cancer – as you said, bullshit. I hope you can find some decent life insurance. I don’t have any. Thanks for the post.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Nancy, thank you for your support. Yes, many people have misconceptions about how serious breast cancer is. The financial advisors were real insensitive dopes.

  5. Kathi had this to say about that:

    Unbelievable. I’m just about speechless.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


      It almost rendered me speechless at the financial planning meeting. Oy.

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