My Mother-In-Law Was Diagnosed With Cancer. We Are Broke From Medical Debts. – JS

“Dear Michael,

My mother inlaw was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago. My husband is an only child. We have been helping my inlaws with cancer treatment money and household finances for over a year. We sold our house to help pay for treatments, I did not work for a year so that I could be home to make the chemo and radiation treatments so my husband could work. Long story short, my father in law is now taking chemo and radiation. We are broke. I am working, but only make about 1200.00 a month. I have 42000.00 in credt card debt and can no longer afford to pay this. The only thing I still own is my vehicle which I will sell but will only bring about 10000.00. Both credit cards are only in my name.

My credit card company is Chase. 2 seperate accounts. Should I try to pay one and default on the other or should I default on both and try to settle for whatever my vehicle will bring. We still have more chemo and radiation treatments and I am at the bottom of the barrell.

Thanks for any advice.



You are in a tough spot. I have more questions than I have answers.

Assuming you are able to settle with Chase at 40% of the current balances you will need to come up with roughly 17k to settle both accounts. Selling the car would possibly get you more than half way there. What other funds can you put together over a short period of time, say 7 months?

If treatments are still ongoing, what will your finances look like after the credit cards are settled? How are additional expenses going to be met if you exhaust all resources? What happens if things deteriorate further with mom or dad?

I assume you have looked at any and all options with regard to your in-laws ability to qualify for medical assistance. How much of the treatment costs are being covered? How much of the costs have you paid using your Chase credit cards? Were you not making payments on the cards would you be able to meet all of your other bills and make arrangements to pay for treatments?

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Have you looked into bankruptcy as an option? What if you sold the car and paid medical bills with the funds and then file bankruptcy on the other unsecured debts?

If the priority is to use all available funds to meet current medical needs, settling the credit cards for less than what you owe after you have fallen behind may not be the best path.

How much debt overhang do your in-laws have? Do they still owe on medical bills now? Can you project a realistic time frame for dads situation to stabilize? If so, what is the projection?

I want to help you focus on the things that matter to you and your family. I just need more information. Please answer my questions in the comment section below and I will be better prepared to respond.

Michael Bovee has worked with financially challenged consumers for the past 17 years and is a recognized expert in his field. Michael founded Consumer Recovery Network (CRN) in 2006. CRN offers debt settlement services and educational resources nationwide. He has served as its president since 2006.

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