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This is actually DH's bust and boom year, but I was right there with him. It all started in October 2004:

First, DH got abruptly fired for no reason. Then his mother died suddenly from a brain tumor. Finally, DH was rushed into emergency surgery a few days before Halloween 2004. They removed a huge, malignant tumor growing in his spine. Doctors weren't sure if he'd live or if he did live, if he would be permanently paralyzed. Two weeks after surgery, he was sent home in a wheelchair. So at the end of 2004, I had a depressed, disabled and unemployed DH (he was doing contract work after he got fired) and months of rehab ahead. Then the credit card debt started quickly mounting.

Luckily, he was on my health plan at work. However, he was disabled for 3 months while he went through chemo and physical therapy. Our modest savings went fast. He had the breadwinner paycheck and we had to make ends meet with cash advances from the credit cards. That was the “bust” phase of our lives. Then just when I was despairing over our mounting debt, Lady Luck smiled upon us. A distant relative of mine died suddenly and I inherited an unexpected windfall—enough to pay off all our debt!

Flash forward to present: DH has a new job, is walking and has been declared cancer-free. It's been a wild ride and I'm still processing the roller-coaster ride my life has been for the last several months. But my lessons learned are:

• Emergency funds 3-6 months are a must. Even with full health coverage, between our deductible, co-insurance and co-pays we ate through the savings in a hurry

• Medical insurance is a big MUST. Our bills have topped $200K and growing. DH will require MRIs and CAT scans annually for 4 more years. My health plan paid 95% of our bills. At least get major medical from This is no joke. We're in our 40s and have been healthy all our lives. Neither of us smoke or drink and we both exercise.

• Get help if you are a caretaker. I can't believe I kept working, took care of DH, two big dogs and ran the household. I almost had a nervous breakdown. I was stressed out over medical bills, credit card bills, auto repair bills, etc. Get counseling, recruit people to “spell” your spouse/relative, run errands for you, bring food, help clean, return phone calls or e-mails to concerned friends. There's an excellent website I wish I had found back then:

Sorry this was so long…just hope my bust and boom story helps someone else out there!
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