I have always been a diligent saver, scared at the thought of racking up huge credit card debt or not being able to pay my mortgage. Lucky for me, my husband is the same way and we have always been good about saving money. Having that “rainy day savings fund” has always been an integral part of our monthly budget, a safety net in the event of something unexpected. We have always heard that it’s a good idea to have at least six months salary saved up in case of a job loss or medical emergency, but it wasn’t until recently that we discovered just how important this was.
Imagine you are in a life-or-death situation, and to navigate it you need a little bit of money. You’d want to be certain that you had the money to spare, right?
Rewind 14 years, when I used to work for a pet rescue organization. During that time I trapped, socialized and nurtured back to health a small white kitten just three weeks old who I named Dexter. Dexter has been with me throughout many important life events – my marriage, the birth of my child, and countless other memories. He sits with me on the couch, sleeps with me at night and provides me constant companionship, along with my two other cats.
A few weeks ago I noticed Dexter limping, and a few days later he suffered a
fall jump whereupon he fractured his left heel. An emergency room visit, exam and x-rays set me back $450, but that was just the beginning. It was during that visit that we found out that it was more than just a fracture, in fact, Dexter had bone cancer.
The follow-up visit to the vet for more x-rays and bloodwork totaled $527, so by that point we had already placed almost $1000 on our credit card, but how could I not provide care for my pet of 14 years when he was limping around in pain? I couldn’t bear to see him suffer so I met with the oncologist who laid out my options.
To put in bluntly, either we proceed with amputation surgery to remove his leg (and the tumour), or my cat spends the rest of his (shortened) life in pain while the cancer spreads throughout his body. If we want to end that pain early, well… you can figure out what that option was. Without even a second glance at the estimate of $3,200 I asked the oncologist to proceed with the surgery because regardless of the cost, I wanted to give Dexter the best life and medical care that he needed.
I could choose to do this because I had been a diligent saver all of these years. I didn’t have to rack up huge credit card debt or take out a small loan, because I had squirreled away money in my savings account in case of an emergency. Sure it was hard to put my extra money in the bank and not buy those shoes, but at the end of the day, who gives a hoot about material goods when I was able to save a life!
It’s been two weeks now since his surgery and Dexter is adapting to life with three legs. The fibroid sarcoma was removed and the vet told me that there is a 75% chance that it would not have metastasized (fingers crossed!). If within a year his follow-up x-rays are clear, then Dexter will have beaten cancer!
I certainly don’t know what the future holds. Did I extend his life by a few months or a few years… that’s yet to be determined. But I do know that however long he is with me, living pain and cancer-free, it was all worth it. And it was all made possible by the fact that I had an emergency savings account!
Are you ready to start saving?
*November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. If you have a furry companion, please educate yourself on the signs and facts of cancer.