Life Well Planned


Rodney Warner
Rodney Warner

That’s the slogan for Raymond James, an investment company who wants you to pay it to invest your money. They’ll be happy to be paid to help you plan your financial life, be it retirement, your kid’s college education, so you can save your money, make a good return and make your dreams come true.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Many of us who have dealt with, or are currently dealing with, cancer had well planned lives. We then descended into the chaos of cancer. You have plans? Kids? Retirement? Nice vacations? Big wedding for your daughter? Good luck with that, assuming you survive, can pay off all the medical bills and make up for all the income you lost.

In the financial industry’s defense, insurance can be bought to cover all these things, but not all of us are wise enough, or have the resources, to buy it.

Plan all you want, but about 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year.  I doubt many of them were planning on that. My brother died of cancer when he was 46.  I’m sure that wasn’t part of his plans.

Feel the need to work lots of hours, make lots of money, deal with all kinds of stress, pinch every penny so you can enjoy the retirement of your dreams? Go for it, but don’t be surprised if you end up enjoying the golden years of your retirement with chemotherapy drugs dripping in you through an IV.

One of the many people I met during my cancer journey was a man in his 60’s. It took him over 30 years to work his way into middle management for a large manufacturer and retire. Nine months later he had terrible back pain, which he thought was from a muscle strain moving furniture. It ended up being lung cancer that spread to his spine, which later crushed his spinal cord, leaving him with paraplegia. When I spoke to him, he told me his physicians gave him about a year to live.

I’ve been treated by many physicians, but one of my favorites was Dr. Peter Tutschka at St. Francis Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. By the time I saw him, he had spent about 40-50 years treating cancer patients with bone marrow transplants. Most of the time I was pretty healthy so we had some time to talk, and I asked him what were the saddest cases he had dealt with.  He told me it was those who couldn’t be cured who were either children or adults who had worked, skimped, sacrificed and saved all their lives so they could enjoy a retirement they never experienced.

Plan all you want. Knock yourself out. But living a stressful, high pressure life in the name of working towards the retirement of your dreams doesn’t mean it will happen. I hope it will, but living a life that revolves around earning money without being able to enjoy yourself may bring on a demise far earlier than you imagined.

Like my Mom would tell me, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.