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Living Through Critical Illness

Jerry, a successful executive at a financial planning firm, took financial planning seriously. Early in his career he took stock of his situation and tried to understand what opportunities his finances afforded him, but also what risks. But no matter what the calculation of risk, even Jerry probably didn’t imagine this one.

In 2009 Jerry was not feeling well and decided a trip to the doctor was in order. The symptoms were dizziness, constant sinus infections, a frequent sore throat and general tiredness. After a physical and some basic blood work the doctor informed Jerry that he was working too much and that since he was getting older stress was starting to take a toll.

Over the course of the next two years Jerry went to a number of different doctors where he explained how his symptoms were getting worse. He was going to the doctor on a regular basis for various infections and a now frequent heart palpitation that was starting to worry him. Since health insurance companies have limitations to coverage Jerry was starting to pay a significant amount of money out of pocket when he visited the doctor. In hind sight, Jerry realized that each doctor hypothesized what his problem might be and then ran a test or two to confirm or deny that thought. Fortunately, each test came back negative but this still left Jerry with no answer as to why he was feeling so poorly.

By August of 2011 Jerry was regularly bruising and was getting short of breath doing things that he normally found easy. At this point Jerry was getting very frustrated so he decided to find a doctor who would think holistically, like he did with financial planning. He was tired of each doctor just researching one or two ailments and not thinking about the whole person. Jerry started calling around to doctors asking if he could have a consultation to discuss the philosophy of the practice and to his surprise office after office said no. Finally, after many phone calls, he found a doctor who was willing to meet and discuss their philosophy to patient health.

At the appointment Jerry explained his journey thus far and explained to the doctor that he was looking for someone to help him as he did his financial planning clients. He wanted someone that was going to look at the big picture and take a whole person approach. The doctor agreed with this and started to work with Jerry to find out what his problem was. After a battery of tests the new doctor found there was something wrong with Jerry’s blood work so asked him to proceed to the local hospital. 24 hours later, at age 43, Jerry was given a leukemia diagnosis.

If you have every known anyone that has gone through leukemia, you will know that it can take a toll on the body and it can be a long drawn out process. Jerry was told that he would not be going back to work for a number of months and he was going to have an extended stay in the hospital. Fortunately, one of the things Jerry had done to prepare for the unexpected was to have a robust emergency fund. The mortgage, family living expenses, his daughter’s soccer, they would all be paid like there was nothing wrong. A colleague even commented when visiting Jerry that he seemed to not have a care in the world. And while his medical cares were real, Jerry had a level of financial peace due to the advanced work he had done on his plan.

The chemotherapy drugs used were incredibly effective but they can make you very tired and cause other debilitating. The first round of chemotherapy had some affect, but not as well as his doctors wanted. For his second round of treatment, Jerry asked his doctor to use a newer chemotherapy drug that he read about on the leukemia consortium website. It seemed this newer chemotherapy regimen was showing great results but the doctor was hesitant to prescribe it because the health insurer could deem it something out of the ordinary and ultimately not cover the cost. Jerry really did not care what the cost was if the drugs could produce the great results he read about, but then the doctor told him that it could be as high as $10,000 per dose. Suddenly, Jerry’s normal “do whatever it takes” attitude was going to have significant consequences.

As a part of Jerry’s financial strategy he did what many parents and bread winners would have done, he purchased life insurance. The policy he purchased insured more than just loss of life, it also allowed him to accelerate a portion of the death benefit in the case of a critical illness. Specifically, the critical illness rider would pay a portion of the death benefit if an event such as a heart attack, stroke or cancer were to occur. Jerry was able to accelerate about 1/3 of his death benefit, which more than covered the cost of the treatment.

Many people would say Jerry’s positive attitude and level of financial confidence helped him stay calm and optimistic during the process. Jerry had his financial house in order so he was free to focus on his attitude and his health.

In the end the second treatment worked better then the doctors expected. For the type of leukemia Jerry had they were hoping to get his diseased bone marrow down to a low level, between 2 or 3 percent of his total marrow. After numerous tests and some time to allow the chemotherapy to work, the doctors were able to report Jerry was disease free; they were not able to find any of the bad marrow.

In the end the second treatment worked better then the doctors expected. For the type of leukemia Jerry had they were hoping to get his diseased bone marrow down to a low level, between 2 or 3 percent of his total marrow. After numerous tests and some time to allow the chemotherapy to work, the doctors were able to report Jerry was disease free; they were not able to find any of the bad marrow.

All “Stories We Love” combinations of various client experiences and do not represent any one situation. Because Jerry is an aggregate of real experiences of other people, this Story We Love does not in any way represent an endorsement or client recommendation. All situations vary. To find out if your story correlates to anything you’ve read here, contact a Trilogy advisor.

Registered Representative is not an attorney. The Registered Representative will help review the documents and recommend a local attorney that specializes in Estate planning. Estate planning can involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. You should consider the counsel of an experienced estate planning professional before implementing any strategy. 

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