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Practical matters

When you have cancer, many things may feel like they are out of your control. You may worry about your job or dwell on money concerns. You may have new expenses to pay for, like help around the house or renovations to fit your new needs. Things such as travelling may need to be thought about in a whole new way.

Take control where you can. Organizing or planning for the future can help you and your family cope and give you a sense of peace that some things have been taken care of.

Understand your insurance benefits

Find out more about your health insurance, if you haven’t already done so. If you have private disability insurance or insurance through your employer, get familiar with the terms and conditions of your coverage. Make sure you understand:

  • what your insurance will continue to pay for and what you will need to pay for
  • if your policy has a waiting period before disability coverage starts
  • if your policy has a yearly or lifetime cap (the maximum amount they will pay out) on benefits

Organize your important papers

Make sure your family knows where they can find your important documents, such as your advanced healthcare directive and will. This will make it easier if they need to use them. Taking control of these documents is not about having cancer – it’s something all adults should do.

Keep your originals in a fireproof box or a safety deposit box or with your lawyer. If you keep your important papers in a safety deposit box, make sure that a family member or friend has access to the box. Give copies of the documents to family members or healthcare professionals.


A teenaged girl sitting on her bed I was in total shock when I heard the diagnosis of cancer. Cancer to me was an adult’s disease. Being a 13-year-old teenager, it certainly wasn’t even on my radar.

Read Sabrina's story

Great progress has been made

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Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.

Learn more