An Eye Opening Way to Spend a Saturday



  • Are you able to compare health insurance options by doing the math? (Hint: The one with the highest premium may be the most economical.)
  • Do you understand your employment rights? (RE: employer policies, state law, FMLA, ADA)
  • Do you know you can’t be denied health insurance and can’t be charged more because of your health condition? (For now, in most states.)
  • Do you have an estate plan?
  • Does someone, besides you, know where that plan is located?

If you answered “no” to any of the above, you’re not alone. It’s hard to fight through all the paperwork and “legalese” and besides, you don’t have any medical problems – right now. But things change.

I recently spent a Saturday – all day – at the Triage Cancer Conference in Chicago, along with other caregivers, patients, survivors, advocates and health care professionals. The day was jam-packed with important information on cancer advocacy and empowerment; understanding health insurance and disability insurance; managing finances and estate planning; and Employment 101: Working through Treatment & Taking Time Off.

Triage Cancer is a national, nonprofit organization co-founded by the sister/attorney duo of Monica Fawzy Bryant and Joanna Fawzy Morales. Their mission is to provide education to individuals diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers on legal and practical issues. And they deliver.

Besides the conferences (coming in the fall to Houston and Chapel Hill), they offer intensives on insurance and finance as well as partnering with Cancer and Careersfor in-service training – Navigating Cancer: Work & Insurance. (Continuing education units are offered.) A speakers’ bureau is also available.

The website has blogs and webinars (all are archived so you can access them at your convenience) on all of the above mentioned topics – and more. But my personal favorites are the free online guides and resources that are available to order or download.

Caregivers: I know you don’t have a full day to devote to a conference and that is why the Triage website is especially helpful. A wealth of information is at your finger tips and with it the empowerment to advocate not only for your loved one but for yourself, as well, with healthcare providers, insurance companies and employers.

If I sound enthusiastic about these young women and their organization, I am. Triage embodies the idea of personal responsibility and self-education; becoming familiar with and understanding the parts of our lives that are overlooked or ignored because we think they don’t apply to us at this particular moment. But it is never too early to become acquainted with and be able to ask questions about issues that each and everyone one of us will face at some time in our lives.

So make like good Girl and Boy Scouts – Be Prepared!