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Double cancer diagnosis shows why the right cover is critical

Double cancer diagnosis shows why the right cover is critical
27-09-22 / Chris Smit

Double cancer diagnosis shows why the right cover is critical

Durban - Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among South African women – but it’s also the cancer women die of most in our country. According to CANSA figures, women in South Africa have a 1 in 42 lifetime risk of cervical cancer.

September is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, which encourages women to screen regularly for cervix cell changes before they cause symptoms. There’s good reason for concern: cancer was the leading cause of critical illness lump sum claims in 2021, according to Bidvest Life’s 2021 Claims Report, and is the most common critical illness paid on income protection benefits.

When South Africans are diagnosed with cancer, it’s vital that they have sufficient cover that allows them to focus on their recovery, says Zanele Ntulini, Chief Marketing Officer at life insurer Bidvest Life.

“Your role as advisers is to ensure that when cancer – or any critical illness for that matter - strikes, your clients can take the time off to recover without having to worry about losing their incomes,” says Ntulini. “It’s up to you to ensure your clients know their real needs and risks and are covered correctly. By prioritising critical illness income protection benefits, they are protected from life’s curveballs and have claim certainty.”

Broker consultant Brenda Fourie is living proof of the need for comprehensive critical illness cover. She was diagnosed with not one, but two primary cancers within the space of a year.

Fourie initially presented with an abnormal test result after her annual checkup in May 2021. After thorough investigation, including CT scans, she underwent a radical hysterectomy in July 2021, which confirmed Stage 3 endocervical adenocarcinoma.

The hysterectomy alone required a six-week recovery period. This was followed by five weeks of chemotherapy and 25 sessions of radiation, which took place daily and left her exhausted.

“I was dead tired. I was trying to work, but even when I felt I was 90% back to work, I still needed an afternoon nap,” says Fourie. “On top of that, we were in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, and I was scared of going out because of my compromised immune system.”

And just when she thought she was on the road to recovery, she was diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2022, which took an immense physical and emotional toll on her and her family. Because she had been diagnosed with two separate primary cancers, she was able to claim for two critical illness income and two critical illness lump sum pay-outs, which enabled her to take the time she needed to recover properly.

“Brenda’s story illustrates how the traditional approach to critical illness falls short. Many individuals only take out critical illness lump sum benefits. While a lump sum is great to pay for once-off additional costs, it falls short in addressing the daily reality of those living with and fighting these terrible illnesses, and their associated costs,” says Ntulini.

“Traditional income protection benefits are limited to 100% of your income. However, when you’re dealing with a critical illness, there are additional monthly expenses. By having critical illness income benefits in place, Brenda’s income was boosted for 12 months to allow her and her family to recover physically and emotionally.”

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