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I Beat Cancer at 26 — But I’ll Never Shake My Medical Debt 

Young cancer patients can face daunting cancer treatment debt.

In 2015, Nathan B. was a typical 25-year-old, facing the same challenges as other millennials. He’d just quit his first full-time job in tech to land something more in line with his passion: working part-time with no benefits as an exhibit facilitator at a museum, while planning to head back to school and pick up a graduate degree.

“I knew that I had gotten myself into a strange financial situation,” Nathan, now 29 and living in Oklahoma City, tells MEL. “But I felt so much better about my mental health that I knew I was headed in the right direction.” He was beginning to finally find confidence in where his life was heading, he says. “I was just happy, which was huge!”

A month later, he got sick with what he thought was a bout of strep throat he couldn’t shake. That’s where we’ll pick up Nathan’s story.


My neck was swelled up like a balloon. I went to a walk-in clinic, paid $325 (over half my paycheck) for a shot to my bumbum, and within two days, my throat wasn’t swollen anymore. Three weeks later, it came back. Again I went to the doctor and paid  [about] $200 for some antibiotics. I was told to quit smoking and sent on my way. A week passed before the swelling went down the second time, but my throat continued to hurt for months afterward. I decided to stop smoking, thinking maybe it would help, and by August I was smoke-free.

Fast-forward to November. I had been in the gym almost daily. I was dieting properly, counting calories, checking macros, but was having a hard time staying active without exhausting myself.

After every workout I did, my legs were shakier than usual, my reaction time was slower than usual, and I didn’t feel like moving… but I just chalked it up to being worn-out. I remember doing some boxing and my sparring partner clipped my chin and hit me in the neck right above my collarbone. We laughed about it after the initial shock of what happened and decided to call it a day.

The next morning, my neck was sore where he hit me. I remember taking a shower, feeling the lump right above my collarbone and thought to myself that he left one hell of a goose egg. The only reason I found it strange was because it didn’t feel like a bruise. It didn’t feel like anything, really. My neck muscles were sore, but other than that, this small, quarter-sized lump just felt like jelly.

Read on: [wp_colorbox_media url=”https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/cancer-medical-debt” type=”iframe” hyperlink=”I Beat Cancer at 26 — But I’ll Never Shake My Medical Debt “]

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