We would like to introduce you to our client Jennifer Gonzalez-Diaz, Sales Manager, Digital Content at DU Telecommunication. In this interview, Jennifer shares her experiences about her critical illness journey, the impact on her life and the importance of protection.
Q – So Jen, what protection have you taken out?
JGD – we’ve taken the Life Insurance protection which includes Critical Illness as part of that Life Insurance
Q – Why did you take out the protection?
JGD – It was a decision I made with my husband because we’d just had a baby and thought that having protection wasn’t only something that was good for us in case of any issues but for our baby boy. This was in case of anything happening to both of us that the family would have some sort of protection that they wouldn’t feel the financial burden. So, it was really to think about planning for the future, without one of us or even without the both of us that the family would not feel the burden.
Q – You met with James McMullan one of the Financial Planners at Alpha. How did you feel about James in addressing your requirement?
JGD – James was great in addressing our requirement. In fact, it was more of an eye opener for us during the first discussion with James. This was because Life Insurance was something that I was getting from my employer, as part of a cover that my work offers.
It wasn’t necessarily something that I thought would be needed as an extra or an add-on for my husband, but James listened to whatever we had. He also listened to our financials, future plans and our family plans. He looked at more than just the numbers, he just heard us and listened to everything that we had to say regarding our family plans and as a conclusion, he gave us several options. Each and every one of these options was tied to our plans it wasn’t just something that was generic, it was very specific to our needs.
The Life Insurance in particular was very much of interest because we had just had a son and as a priority, thinking about the future of our family and potentially anything happening to us, it would really make sense to have Life Insurance in place, especially because it included Critical Illness.
Although we always think that we are going to live a long and happy life, which we always wish for and hope for, we don’t actually foresee anything negative happening and this type of planning has really helped us to prevent any major obstacle financially in case of any bad luck arising.
Q – You took the insurance out in May 2017, has anything happened since you put the cover in place?
JGD – Yes, so in May 2017 we took the insurance which was a couple of months after having our baby boy and just over three months later believe it or not I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
I remember it was on the 8th of September 2017 that I went for a breast ultrasound, which I then had to have a breast mammogram and then a biopsy. A few days later came a conclusion that it was Breast Cancer.
I have always been healthy, a very healthy lifestyle, never smoked hardly drank and as opposed to some of my friends who do smoke and drink. It was however me that was told at the age of 34 with a baby only a few months old you I am now having to face the biggest challenge of my life, so yeah that’s the big thing that happened.
Q – When this all happened did you receive any support from James and AOP, or was it a case of you getting on with it on your own?
JGD – No, Not at all. It wasn’t a case of us having to deal with things on our own, James spoke with my husband after finding out that I had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
James said to us don’t forget your Life Insurance has Critical Illness included. In those moments you don’t actually think and forget everything that you have. You don’t remember the specifics of whatever contracts you have negotiated purely because you’ve got bigger things to worry about.
James was there all along to ensure that we were supported; and he took everything into his hands. To check whether my case could be filed under the Critical Illness cover and managed to speak with all the relevant people. We got support from the beginning to the end. From filing the request to check whether or not the case would be accepted by Zurich to looking for all the information from the medical experts. Everything was taken care of by James.
Q – I take it then from that answer you did get paid the Critical Illness cover?
JGD – So we got the cover allocation from our insurance given to us, paid into our account very quickly. It was a matter of days really after the claim was successfully accepted. It was literally a matter of days for us to see the amount deposited into our account.
Q – Having that money paid out, did it give you a sense of ease, put your mind at rest that you didn’t have to worry about expenses?
JGD – Absolutely, for all of those who live in the UAE, we all face the same challenge which is that we all have medical insurance because it is compulsory, which is great. But potentially those insurances may have a cap on treatment. My medical insurance did have a limit amount on it and it’s something that we should keep in our mind that there could be a cap included.
Critical Illness cover especially is great because it gives you peace of mind. If you need access to additional treatment outside of whichever country you find yourself in, the treatment can be made available to you, which may not be if you do not have additional cover or money available in your pocket.
Also if you don’t need that money straight away it helps to essentially not think about financial concerns, if anything was to be escalated and you had to look for further options you know that you’ve got that amount of cash in the bank for that purpose.
Q – A pretty obvious answer coming up I think, but in hindsight are you glad you took the insurance when you did?
JGD – Yes, absolutely I am and I definitely recommend anybody taking the same sort of approach. It does seem like a significant commitment and it is something that you can’t take lightly. But, we will at some point, we are not immortal so we will face death sooner or later, hopefully it’s later and if it happens sooner or whenever, you need to have the peace of mind that you’ve got a structure and financial support to back you up and back your family up. So, yeah definitely glad to have taken that.
Q – Important to point out at this stage that you look really, really good. You look strong, you look healthy. Ok, your hair is a little shorter than we are used to seeing you with but it hasn’t been like that all the way through. How did your life change from September 2017 until now, what’s happened over the last 10 months?
JGD – A lot has happened, I went through a number of treatments. Sessions of Chemotherapy first, followed by undergoing breast surgery with immediate reconstruction and followed by 25 sessions of radiotherapy which was then followed by a series of continuous, what we call targeted therapy treatment which is what I am still going through now. So, essentially a series of treatment every two or three weeks or potentially every single day of the week.
Physically weight gain with steroids feeling extremely weak being prone to lots of different virus’s and diseases due to weaker immune system.
However little by little losing hair from not only my head but eyebrows and eyelashes which makes you feel less of a person, sometimes you can’t even recognise yourself. So a lot has happened but a lot has changed since, I am stronger now and feel stronger now and I am now what they call no evidence of disease, so there is no evidence of disease at it stands today and I am still in active treatment.
By the way, the money from the insurance has helped me because I did reach my medical insurance cap, but I feel strong, I have energy back and back to an exercise routine, so you could say a lot has happened in what is less than a year.
Q – It sounds like at the moment it’s all good news, things are moving in the right direction, how does that make you feel?
JGD – it makes me feel great, it was definitely a great start to the whole rollercoaster to have that financial cover sorted straight away for me from the beginning and it was really a peace of mind. The last thing you want to think about when you are being told that you’ve got such an illness is to worry about the financial side of it and when you don’t have to worry about it, it’s a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.
Q – Is it fair to say that because of the personal approach and support you would recommend James to any of your colleagues and friends ?
JGD – Yes, without a doubt. I have already introduced James to some of my friends to help with their own cover needs and will not hesitate to recommend him again.
Q – so finally then, if you were trying to raise awareness and had a message for anyone else, whether it be a husband and wife, a family or somebody on their own that were not sure if they should be taking cover out for themselves, what would that message be ?
JGD – Don’t think about it twice just go for it whether you do have a direct family i.e. wife, husband, kids or not. Your life might change at any point in time. You should make sure that money is the last thing you worry about, if your life does change because of a Critical Illness.
Yes, you might be in the best shape you’ve ever been, or you’re not quite sure and you’ve had some issues, don’t over think it just go for it. It’s something that will come out of your bank account on a monthly basis easily; it’s a way of investing in yourself, in your own future without having to think about keeping the cash in a bank account. Put it into a structure that will help at any point in time to give it back to you when you need it, so just go for it.