Rob explains how a major illness affected his finances

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High school teacher Rob talks about the financial impact of dealing with a major illness. For more information, visit MoneySmart by ASIC at TRANSCRIPT ---------------------- My name's Rob Johnson, I've been, ah, working in the education department for about the last 10 years now I'm a high school teacher working in regional Victoria.Six months ago I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and it was just this complete moment of, 'I have cancer, does that mean I'm going to die?' moment you're just sort of like (gasp) and your whole world just closes in to just be your family, you're not thinking about anything else. I then had to do six months worth of chemotherapy, so once a fortnight travelling to Peter Mac to have, uh, chemotherapy done. The bills do pile up, um, and it is over and above your ordinary living expenses. I'd estimate that it will have cost us approximately $10,000 for the six months over the top of of our normal living expenses. We were fortunate in that we had a redraw facility on our home loan that we'd, um, quite often put all of our excess money into um, we'd access it for various things and then try and keep, you know, a certain amount of money sitting there as an emergency fund that if something went wrong we could survive a few months with no income if we had to, um, so having that there made this whole experience you know, quite surviveable. Thinking about finances is the furthest thing from your mind and it is really, really stressful not being around for my family is all I could think about and how am I going to get through that and I remember one of the first things I checked was what's the deal with my super and I found that I had Death and Total Permanent Disability insurance that was in there that was tied up with my super that would have left our house completely paid off and a residual amount of money that would have at least left my wife reasonably comfortable for a year or two. If you've got nothing there to sort of protect you in some way, um, it leaves you extremely vulnerable. After my diagnosis, I was told it was going to take about six months to get well and I was able to sit down with my specialist and actually say 'my full time job right now is about getting well, I don't have to worry about work I can concentrate on just getting well' in this sort of situation when you know your life is on the line, being able to do that becomes so important, you don't realise how important that is until it actually happens. I've returned to work and I've been in remission since September, so I got remission very early in the process of my chemotherapy, which means the chances that I will get a full cure are quite strong, no guarantees in life, there never are but things are looking very positive for me. Don't presume it won't happen to you, I presumed that and it did! My advice would be go and really check out your situation and find the things that are going to help, you know, keep you safe, your family safe.

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