Financial coaches help cancer patients at Dana-Farber


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During this tough economy, the financial burden on cancer patients can be especially trying. Balancing everyday expenses with care-related costs and, for some, income loss, can result in significant financial stress.

Recognizing these challenges, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has teamed up with the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts to offer free, individual financial coaching services to patients and their caregivers. It is one of the nation's first such programs.

"Financial planners can provide invaluable assistance with budgeting, debt management, estate planning, and insurance, but the cost of these services can be out of the question for people who are already maxed out," says Deborah Hoffman, associate director of Dana-Farber's Shapiro Center for Patients and Families and coordinator of the new program.

"We developed this program to remove barriers to financial planning assistance and help our patients to better manage their financial situations while they are battling cancer."

Hoffman says 95 families have already signed up for coaching. "Having cancer is stressful enough. We hope we can help patients and their families ease their money woes, thereby allowing them to focus on beating their cancer."

"Recently, we lost our health coverage because we just could no longer afford to pay for it. My husband and I are both self-employed," says Maurine Turcotte, a breast cancer patient at Dana-Farber trying the program. "Even without cancer, this would have been a tough time for us."

Rick Fingerman is a Certified Financial Planner and past president and member of the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts. He's also the financial liaison and coach for the program. Fingerman says there's no shortage of association members who want to help.

"A lot of the volunteers have been touched by cancer. They have a family member with cancer or they themselves have cancer. The volunteer financial planners have gone above and beyond."

Turcotte says the program has been a huge help for her. "I really appreciate having a wonderful program to help me focus and take the next step in dealing with my finances," she says.

"My children are nine and eleven and they have gone through a lot of changes, so what I'm really trying to do is keep them as stable as possible. And that means keeping me healthy financially, as well as physically."

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