Mostly Money

92: Darin Diehl's story about getting laid off, having a heart attack, and getting cancer

March 16, 2021 Preet Banerjee
Mostly Money
92: Darin Diehl's story about getting laid off, having a heart attack, and getting cancer
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Mostly Money
92: Darin Diehl's story about getting laid off, having a heart attack, and getting cancer
Mar 16, 2021
Preet Banerjee

Darin Diehl has a long history of working in the financial services as an educator and marketer. But in late 2019, he was laid off from his job. Then, in early 2020, he had a heart attack. While being diagnosed and treated for that, doctors also found out that he had advanced lung cancer. Darin thought it would be helpful to share his story, not only from a health perspective, but from a financial and emotional perspective. From what emergency funds they had in place, benefits coverage and insurance, and how his medication for lung cancer has a price tag of $130,000 per year (and he explains how those costs are subsidized).

With a recent positive assessment, he now has another set of unique financial considerations: what is the balance to be found between spending more aggressively now in case his life expectancy is much shorter than his financial plan called for, versus what if he has more runway than the doctors originally predicted?

Darin is sharing his story because his passion for financial education hasn't dwindled. There are many lessons and thought provoking subjects we touch on in this episode. 

Show Notes Transcript

Darin Diehl has a long history of working in the financial services as an educator and marketer. But in late 2019, he was laid off from his job. Then, in early 2020, he had a heart attack. While being diagnosed and treated for that, doctors also found out that he had advanced lung cancer. Darin thought it would be helpful to share his story, not only from a health perspective, but from a financial and emotional perspective. From what emergency funds they had in place, benefits coverage and insurance, and how his medication for lung cancer has a price tag of $130,000 per year (and he explains how those costs are subsidized).

With a recent positive assessment, he now has another set of unique financial considerations: what is the balance to be found between spending more aggressively now in case his life expectancy is much shorter than his financial plan called for, versus what if he has more runway than the doctors originally predicted?

Darin is sharing his story because his passion for financial education hasn't dwindled. There are many lessons and thought provoking subjects we touch on in this episode. 

Darin Diehl:

And I don't want to give the impression that I'm constantly just thinking about the financial aspect of it. It's just that your life is so tied to money decisions throughout it as you know, I mean you've dedicated your life to educating people about this. When it moves from the theoretical to the highly, highly personal, it's a very, very different feeling.

Preet Banerjee:

In this extended episode, my good friend Darren deal is going to explain the emotional and financial impacts of living through the coronavirus pandemic after getting laid off, having a heart attack and then getting diagnosed with lung cancer. We had a wide ranging conversation about not only his health, but also the financial implications of everything he's been through and is going through from critical illness insurance, disability benefits, emergency funds, and more. Darren talks openly about the decisions he and his family have made, and how his perspective about the balance between money, life and health have evolved. There is a lot to absorb in this episode. And I want to thank Darrin for volunteering to tell his story. This is mostly money, and I am your host, Preet Banerjee. And on the show today I'm going to be speaking with a friend who's been diagnosed with two critical illnesses, heart attack, and cancer. And we're going to talk about how that completely up ended his entire life, and of course, his financial life as well. So he's going to share his story about his experience, how it all happened. We're gonna talk about the financial aspects, what insurance he had in place, we're gonna talk about how much the drugs cost and how that threatened to potentially bankrupt them. And how a whole new suite of financial decisions arose from everything that's happened so far, is a dear friend of mine. And he thought it would be worthwhile to tell his story, because we both agree that there is a lot that can be learned from it. And he's been a financial educator and marketer for much of his career. And so he was eager to help people learn and think about just how easily life can change in an instant. Darren deal. Welcome to the show, my friend.

Darin Diehl:

Thank you so much Preet. I was I'm interested to hear myself talk as they say after.

Preet Banerjee:

Well, first question is, how are you doing right now?

Darin Diehl:

Right now? I feel great. I mean, my heart attack was in late May of 2020. So I'm, you know, six months plus basically from my surgery date, where I had a quintuple bypass, that was June 1 of last year. And so from from from that perspective, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm doing my walking, I'm actually in a rehab program now that got had gotten normally that would happen within a couple months after your surgery, but it was delayed from COVID. And now they've, they're delivering these programs online instead of, you know, at a kind of like a medical gym type place. So yeah, I feel good about that. And then with the cancer, I'm, I'm in the treatment that requires that I take a pill every day, which is a targeted therapy drug. So I've not had to endure chemotherapy or radiation to this point. Radiation may happen a little bit later this year. But so the side effects of the targeted therapy drug aren't anything like those other two things. So all things considered, day to day. I feel pretty good.

Preet Banerjee:

Well, I'm glad to hear that. Of course, we met initially, through the financial services, but we didn't really connect more deeply until after I met your wife, Jeanette, and Jeanette was actually one of the directors on million dollar neighborhood on The Oprah Winfrey Network of which I was hosting season two. She took me aside one day in between takes and she said you know, I think you know, my husband and I'm thinking myself Jeanette, Jeanette, Jeanette, deal deal deal, like Darrin deal. He's like, yeah, Darren's my husband. And, and then it was after that, that we really started to get to know each other well, and of course, working on a show together. You know, you get you become very close very quickly, spending so much time right. And I had a blast working with Jeanette. So I thought maybe you could just talk a little bit about your background in the field. Like just very quickly how you got into the service and kind of what you did. Sure.

Darin Diehl:

I started out as a journalist, and I worked for years at standard broadcasting, which doesn't exist anymore. But at the time, you know, it owned some of the biggest radio stations in Canada, cjd and Montreal and cfrp, and Toronto, and they had a national news network and I worked for them for many years, then the an interesting thing happened is that the general manager of the new service left to go to a mutual fund company in the 90s. And the rest of us are going well, you know, Ken, was making fun of chap named Ken Whitehurst. I said, Why, why are you going to mutual fund companies as well, they're, you know, at the, you know, they're figuring out a way to communicate with advisors, that's kind of news like, and, you know, they have this slot, and this idea is in, okay, so eventually can hired some of the reporters and journalists that worked for him at standard and brought them over to that at the time was global strategy, mutual funds, another company that no longer exists, got bought by AGF, around 2000. But they had an interesting marketing idea at the time, which we would now refer to as content marketing. And essentially, it's, you know, where you provide interesting and valuable content to your target audience, in this case, financial intermediaries, and do it on a sort of day to day urgent basis, like news. But you know, so there was a bunch of journalists that were working there, that then led me down the path to sort of stay in that world for a while. And I went from there to Rogers, which had launched advisors, edge magazine, previous to me going there, but they, the year I went there, they'd launched their website, advisor.ca. And so I was running that public, those publications and their advisor forum conference and everything for about five years at Rogers, then I went to stock house calm, which was, you know, small cap investors hub for a few years, and then ended up going to another financial services company, this time, a life insurance company, sunlife, where I launched something called brighter life, which was a new service, but for the general public. You know, so we were creating content and connecting with content creators, like yourself and other people that, you know, we all know, in the financial services education field. And then from there, after five years, I ended up going to tangerine bank, where I was up until November of 2019. And there we'd also love to help them launch and create content for their, for their audience. So I've always been around sort of the, the, the education side of it. And that's how you and I interacted many, many times over the last several years.

Preet Banerjee:

Let's fast forward to 2019 November. So this is when things really started like, like, there's these massive fork in the road moments for you. That all kind of happened all around the same time. Yeah. So do you want to walk us through? So you know, the sad story?

Darin Diehl:

Yeah, I mean, I had of the pandemic, just by a couple of months, I got laid off at from tangerine, you know, some new leadership to come in. And there was a number of colleagues of time that were laid off that year, but so I went into 2020 in job search mode. And, you know, very quickly into 2020, we were all hit with something no one had predicted, which was the pandemic. And that really sort of turned things upside down. At the same time, I was doing something that a lot of other people did in lockdown, I was trying to keep up my exercise by walking and working out online. And then on, on that day, in May, was a Sunday morning, I'd had just finished an exercise session zoom class with you know, five or six other of my trainers, clients, and you know, I went in the house and start within a couple hours, it didn't start I wasn't feeling well. And I felt sort of some discomfort across my chest. But I thought you know, we don't we've done a lot of chest work that workout and I thought I just, you know, I never once thought the word heart attack. And this was like on a Sunday. And what happened is I did sort of get sick to my stomach and I did spend the next few days sort of feeling ill and at no point did I think I had a heart attack or would anyone think hey, I think you might have so because every there was such a talk about COVID we were starting to worry Well, maybe these, you know, I've got a few of the symptoms that they list and I did call telehealth, Ontario. And at the end of the call, remarkably, the nurse said, Listen, Mr. Deal, I've actually called an ambulance to come to your house, because I believe you've had a heart attack. Now keep in mind, the heart attack that she believed I had would have happened on the Sunday. And this is now the following Friday before I actually called so has almost

Preet Banerjee:

a full weekend, almost a

Darin Diehl:

full week. But what had happened is on the Thursday, a different chest feeling came in, and I was feeling some discomfort in my chest again, the ambulance came and they they said, Well, you certainly don't look like you're having a heart attack. Now I said, Well, I'm not. But here's the story. And they said, well, they hooked me up to the to, you know, to the heart monitor and everything and said, everything looks okay, but let's take you in and you know, get your COVID test. And they can run some other tests. So I was in the hospital for a few hours there. And they taken some blood. And then a doctor came by one point and said, Listen, though, there's still a couple more tests I want to do. But if they're like, the other thing, you know, we'll pop send you home, and we'll you'll hear whether or not you're, you know, and give your instructions. If you're positive for COVID, we'll let you know. But after he got the last test, he came back sat on the edge of my bed looked at me and said, Mr. Deal, you've had a heart attack. And I couldn't really believe it. But that then led to of course, chest x rays, and an angiogram and a couple days later, where they determined that they could see that I had a number of blockages, and I would have to have surgery to basically bypass at least you know, for I they thought it was going to be four bypass, it ended up being five. But the other thing that happened during that time was a doctor came to see me and said, Listen, you know, we took some chest x rays, because we wanted to see if you'd had a pleural effusion. And we just wanted to check and see what we could see around the heart and everything. And we did find something that we're not sure that we need to investigate further. And I said, well, what's that? He said, Well, there's a, there's a couple of lesions on, there's one on your left lung and one on your right lung. And I said, Well, what do you mean lesions and said, well, we're not sure what it is, it could be a lot of things. But you know, including some scary things, it could be, you know, some other things all together. So, you know, I'm still dealing with the fact that within the last couple days, I was told I had a heart attack, I have to go for major surgery. And now they throw this at me. And of course, no one said the word cancer, no one said the word cancer but what the first word you think I thought. And so I did not have a great night that night in the hospital. Turns out that I had the surgery, the the heart surgeon was able to find and remove one of the lesions while I was still at the hospital, the last recovering from the heart surgery, he came and let me know that, you know, they they ran pathology, and it is a kind of lung cancer that they discovered. But they believe they you know that they had extracted most of it, then the focus was you know, recovering from the heart surgery, because the first six weeks are pretty tough because you've had your chest bone split open. And so as I was released from hospital after 16 days, where they removed that one lump, you know, on my lung, around that area, there seemed to have been some spread, including a couple of lymph nodes. And so at first they were thinking if you know, if it was just if I had just a little single spot, it would be stage one, potentially. But you know, this was clearly in their mind. a different situation. And so it was like stage four. And so what does that mean? And it's like, the doctors that these are tough conversations and remember the time of COVID these conversations are happening over the phone. So I wasn't sitting in an office with these doctors. The facts being you know, stage four lung cancer discovery, what you've got 19% chance of living five years,

Preet Banerjee:

you've always struck me as you know, you're a healthy guy, like, you know, I'd follow you on Instagram and you know, you're working out religiously working up a sweat. And you know, I imagine and correct me if I'm wrong, but I imagine you you have you know, a family doctor that you've been working with for years. Yeah, you go to your physicals.

Darin Diehl:

Well, we had those conversations preed annoying, like for instance, my doctor, family doctor and I when I saw him, you know, post recovery, he was saying well, you know, Darren, as you know, like you you fit on the heart stuff, you've never had high cholesterol. You know, my cholesterol level was always in control. And And then secondly, you know, I not have I am not an I've never been a smoker. So lung cancer as I learned, there's different kinds and will the kind I have is called non small cell lung cancer and it is it is not smoking related,

Preet Banerjee:

when we hear, you know, information about probabilities of, you know, heart attack cancer and the risk factors, even if you are doing all the right things, it doesn't mean that Oh, you're, you're guaranteed not to have these ailments affect you. Right? Yeah, the probabilities may be lower, but it can still happen. And so, you know, I think that's one of the things whenever, you know, people hear stories like this, it makes them think a little bit more about their own situation. But I, you know, I encourage people I know so many people who, you know, have gone so many years without doing the physical, and they are not even keeping track of those things. Like those baseline like, you know, what's your blood pressure with your cholesterol level and stuff like that, that stuff you got to do? But even then, you know, it's no guarantee. So okay, so you've now been diagnosed with a heart attack, they've found this particular type of cancer in your lungs. And so what, what time period are we talking about?

Darin Diehl:

So but we learned, I got the surgery was June 1, and about, and I've been in the hospitals at that point about a week. So a week later, I was out six weeks after that is when I had the PET scan, so about two months after the surgeries, because, you know, there's about a week delay that I found out about that. I knew I had cancer, but I found out the stage kind of thing. And then shortly after that, you know, the basically on that call the surgical oncologists and the radiation oncologist said, Look, we're not really in the picture right now. Because you've just had, you know, major surgery, and there's the level of this spread, you know, there's radiation guys, I can't, you know, if I were to radiate you that much, and kill you kind of thing. So, we're handing you over for now to the medical oncologist. And, you know, we might come back into the picture at some point, but, you know, and the medical oncologist, we'd had one meeting with terrific, a terrific guy, he explained that in so yeah, it's, it's one thing you learn about cancer is there's specifics to the kind of mutation you have. And you know, so you have a certain kind of cancer with a certain markers of mutation, that means it falls into this category, and I happen to have one that fell into the category that was, could be treated with a pill that was pretty, pretty new, like only approved 2018 kind of thing. You know, he told me, we, you know, we're gonna want to start you on this pill, but it's quite expensive, and how expensive and he said, Well, for a year supply, because you take it every day, it's it's like $130,000 $130,000 per

Preet Banerjee:

year.

Darin Diehl:

Yeah, it's like, we worked it out. It's like 350 bucks a pill. So, here's how it works. In Ontario, it's an across Canada, there's, I think similar things, so it's not covered by Oh, hip. And in many cases, it might not be covered by your private insurance. There's campaigns, you know, underway, lung cancer, Canada is involved with to get them, you know, covered and under both those scenarios. But in Canada that so when you mentioned at the top there, why don't we get afford to pay this, first of all, I'm not working. Secondly, and it's not that we wouldn't do we'd find a way to do it, because it's, you know, a matter of life or death, or hopefully buying a number of years that you might otherwise not have had. And there's a bunch of stuff I've learned about it since but the doctor told us about the Ontario Trillium program, which is kind of a way of covering catastrophic drug costs for people that don't have insurance. because keep in mind, like, my wife, as you know, is freelance in the television world and has been for like the last 20 years or so. And I was the guy full time with the benefits, but now we are both not, you know, we are without our benefits. So we didn't have our medical benefits anymore, hadn't moved yet to sort of buy, like Blue Cross or something to sort of fill in that gap. You know, it's still sort of figuring it out. But I was covered up till the end of May. And when my had my heart attack does come we'll talk about this in a minute because I know we're going to talk specific products and what they did for us, but by but now, you know, there was nothing so he said yeah, you apply for it, you tell them the story and the the way it now of course people have different means can apply for it. And the way they kind of equalize it is what's the deductible that you pay? So they look at your tax records from the previous year, and they calculate your deductible. So the deductible that we were sponsible for over the course of the year, you didn't have to pay the whole thing up front, but over the course of the year, would have added up to about $12,000, I think the the drug manufacturer of this specific bourbon drug that I was taking, they have a program that knocks a couple 1000 off of that, and so on. So then it was really down to, you know, imagining that I'd be taking it for the next year and hopefully longer, but just looking at it in a year by year basis, it was about 10 grand we had to come up with. And so we had some, we had some options for that. And however, I didn't have to pull the trigger on any of them because I was visited by my former boss from my days at Rogers media. And then I found out two days later that he and a few other former colleagues had started a GoFundMe for me, and which then has two or three days basically all ex colleagues from different jobs. The 10 grand was amazing. It which was a wonderful, you know, just felt so uplifting, not just for the relief of, you know, having the money to cover it financially. But just the gesture was so beautiful. And it was, yeah, terrific.

Preet Banerjee:

It's so it's so touching. I'm not surprised. I mean, you know, you're such a great guy. And it's no, no surprise that you've left such an impression on so many people that they would do that. The conversation with Darren do continues in just a minute, I want to give a special shout out to Northern bc for not only leaving a rating and review on Apple podcasts, but for also completing my survey on financial advice. And a thank you to Massimo Moti, for offering to buy me a whiskey. If we ever run into each other at performing one me and my friend, I will hold you to that. Taking just 30 seconds out of your day. And leaving a reading and or review on Apple podcasts is much appreciated. And thank you to everyone who has already left ratings and reviews. I do read every single one. And now back to the conversation with my friend. So let's talk about some of the timing issues. I mean, like, the timing is just horrible on so many different fronts. So, you know, you get you get laid off COVID hits, you have a heart attack, you get diagnosed with lung cancer, basically straight after that. And, you know, at what point did the shock shift from, you know, the health perspective to potentially the financial perspective? Like At what point? Did you know, did you get like a sinking thing about Okay, what does this mean financially for me? Yeah,

Darin Diehl:

it's great question. And I don't know, there was a specific point of demarcation for that, it was more, it started to boil up as even while I was in the hospital, because I had been laid off in November of 2019. But I had an exit package, which you know, preserved my salary for a number of months. And then, you know, I, through a lawyer got that extended a bit more, and it preserved my salary and some of my benefits. And so I knew that my benefits went up to at least the end of May, which was May 31. And so the heart attack was, like third week of May. So that was sort of covered, but and then I said to my wife, you know, can you call because I had critical illness insurance, I thought we should see if, because that could pay out and we you know, that we probably will need that money because I wasn't working. And so it turned out that we first tried to apply for it based on the the easiest thing is the if you had a coronary bypass, that's one of the for heart attack. That's one of the things that you can apply for. And so you just need the proof that you had a coronary bypass. So you need the surgical notes and all that is some paperwork we had to get together. But then as it turned out, you know, the bank and my insurance provider had a different opinion of what my technically last day of coverage was, as the bad interbank my employer was saying it was it was May 31. And the Initially, the insurance advisor said well, his first day of retirement, because that's what they called it, you know, was June 1, which was the day of my surgery and technically could be covered. Long story short, the bank was right. And my coverage had ended on the 31st. And so it was like, at the end of the day, we just had wasted some time. Not it wasn't you know, you may say hey, Well, they should have paid out anyways, it was a day later. But you know, there's got to be rule somewhere when it covered Jen. So I wasn't that freaked out about it. Because, you know, they said, Well, now you what you can do is apply for the heart attack. So then you had to get different evidence. And so whatever, there's two or three documents we had to get together, and then within a month, yeah, we were paid out the money that we had so. So that so really, it started the this, this thinking about the financial implications started in while I was in the hospital, but to your point, it was more toward the late summer, when you know, because the doctor, the surgeon had said, Well, you can't go back to work anyways, until maybe mid September, you know, some steps we taken years ago came into play. And that's where I think, you know, I wanted to some of the points I wanted to make with you on this call today. Our I found as an educator, a lot of the content over the years that we did, was trying to get people to understand the benefit of actions that they would take today that they wouldn't actually reap the benefits of potentially for years and years. So that's true about, you know, when you're in your 20s and 30s, about retirement savings, it's true when you start a family and you start to add things like hopefully, you know, life life insurance that you don't, or, or any other kind of, you know, insurance, there's, there's so many pressing needs when you're starting out in life and in your financial life with your partner, you know, buy or rent and you know, the costs around that and cars and, and other costs, and then you've got kids and you've got their education and their kids. So there's all this stuff. And somewhere in there, you still have to be thinking about one day, if everything works out, and you stay healthy, you're gonna enter retirement and you have to be taken care of that, I kind of put all these things that we should talk about now is like, planned risks that not just me, but people like yourself and other people that I would run into. And just generally the industry that we're in, we're all about these were known risks that could be mitigated against, you can save for retirement, you can buy different kinds of insurance, you can do all these things, you know, a lot of this, these factors came in. And so I'll take specifically how so let's look at disability insurance. If you're a two person household or two working person household, and you both work for companies that provide benefits, then you know, you're in pretty good shape. Because even if one of you were to lose their job for a while you're covered by the other person's benefits, and so on and so forth. In our case, I was always the one, you know, for the last couple of decades of the with the with the benefits, because my wife was freelance. So we you know, that was a important part to keep in mind, I'd been laid off from other like, over the course of my career, you know, different things happened companies by other companies, there's mergers, there's up and downtimes and stuff. So I've been laid off two previous time, and had gaps in between before I landed, you know, sometimes it was a quick transition to the next job, but sometimes would be a bit of a gap. And a friend of mine had about 15 or so years ago had gone through the same experience. And had decided, after one of those episodes that he and his wife would purchase some disability insurance, ex whatever benefits they he might have with his job. So the case, yeah, in case at some point they were ever in the situation where neither of them were had benefits. But you know, there was an illness. And so it prophetically proved to be a terrific decision. And, you know, and happened really just I think if I remember just months before he was diagnosed with an aggressive kind of mental and melanoma, Mike, a friend of mine, he's still with us today and having a successful battle against his cancer doing really well but still, you know, drawing on his disability. So it made me think that, you know, this is a something that we should we should do, because I don't if it's just one of us, that's has the benefits and fine young unemployed. So we made the decision back then to apply for it. And then to make the claim we had to wait three months to post the event of the heart attack and and the cancer diagnosis and then we made the claim and was accepted right away given the situation. So I started the fall off with you know, some and I found myself pre kind of thanking, you know, my wife certainly thanked my advisor who was you know, big part of the decision to do this but my friend who you know, had by example had taught this and, and even my younger self for my wife and I for having the you You know, we made the right decision. And of course, I know, you know this really well, you're, a lot of these things are like, there's times in our life where we're going on and things are tight right now, you know, we're paying all this money, like, you know, to for insurance products, or, you know, the premiums every month or this and that, you know, because we also had private health insurance outside of our benefits. And so that's one of the, the other lessons for me was private versus what's provided by your benefits. And the other thing, and, you know, as you know, because I brought in you into companies that I've worked out to educate people about these issues, and we've written content on it, with your help. Even if you have benefits, it's so important to understand what they actually are. And within anyone's benefit package, there's always different options. So do you just take the base life insurance, or do you pay a bit more to double it up, in my case, I had made a decision that, you know, the critical illness insurance, which paid out against, you know, certain critical illnesses, including the two that I had, I but I could only apply to one another story. But anyways, they, they pay it, you know, part of my package included one unit of it, so you got one unit of it, which was $25,000. And I decided to add to pay for like add premium, and Diggs get a second unit. So our payout was, you know, 50,000, which, but you know, I've had friends that have done the same thing, but they, they topped it up to 100,000. And so yeah, again, you're, you're sort of paying it out more, but to go back to the pay yourself, first thing, it comes off your check you just after a while you operate life without knowing it, and so on, having made the decision, you know, more than 15 years earlier about getting them the Disability Insurance, that also helped. And, and with disability insurance, there's a couple of different kinds, you know, there's the kind that we got, I guess, is the little little better, kind in some ways called own occupation. So you're protected against not being able to work in your own occupation. So you know, in other words, you Oh, you can't do your normal job, but you could go, you know, do some other work or work in a coffee shop, or whatever it might be. So you're protected against the your loss to be able to do your actual line of work. So that those two things were definitely something I was glad to have. had those decisions come back and sort of say, wow, this is the benefit in hindsight. Now, hopefully, people, you don't want these things to happen, in order to prove the value of the decision you made.

Preet Banerjee:

That is sort of the the perversion deal you're making with your insurance provider, which is, you know, you win. If you make a claim, you kind of hope that you don't win, like you hope that you lose that bet. Right. Yeah. Because that means you have good health.

Darin Diehl:

Exactly. So, but there's just some things, you know, it's tough to predict. So

Preet Banerjee:

how much was in your emergency fund? Or were you relying on like a line of credit as your emergency fund? No, I mean, about that.

Darin Diehl:

Yeah. So with the sort of straight savings account emergency funds, that's the one that was would be volatile. So it would be you know, we borrow against it, so to speak, to take a vacation, or we would borrow against the to help with a down payment for an automobile and so on and so forth. But over time, and so there were twice, there was twice in our life, where we were carrying debt outside of mortgage that was primarily line of credit. In both cases, you know, we tried to, when we were younger, it took us longer to pay that one off, but later, but we still sort of focused on it and prioritize paying it off. And then later when we had it again, you know, if, if, anytime I would get a bonus, or you know, some of the other kind of extra beyond your salary earnings, but I always look at that kind of debt first. And then and then now, you know, say, plugged them into savings and so on and so forth. So, but we certainly didn't have you know, you know, so we're talking about less than $10,000, probably in pure liquid emergency fund at that time.

Preet Banerjee:

And, you know, I want to we've talked about this one I want to come across as callous to listen when I raised this question, but, you know, when it comes to your health diagnoses that you've had, one of the considerations is that, you know, your life expectancy is probably not what you thought it was, you know, 10 years ago, right? Yeah, the trajectory of your life, you've totally had to reconsider it, including, you know, quality of life. And, you know, you've got a certain amount of financial resources that maybe initially were planned for, you know, 2030 years of retirement, and maybe you had plans for traveling in retirement, more travel more aggressively than then you might do sooner. And so does the calculus change in your mind as to, okay, we've got these resources. And there's a chance that I could live, you know, a long time. But I also sort of feel like, you know, I'm on borrowed time, I have had two critical illnesses, do you think about spending some of that money more aggressively today to sort of take advantage of the time that you do have while you are still having the quality of life so that you could do certain things,

Darin Diehl:

you know, all of those questions just flooded into me in the early fall of last year, and it and not because the reason why they came up was if you look at it, and like there's a part A, and Part B to the financial conversation of the Part A was all the immediate decisions that we had to make. And, you know, and so we got the, we had critical illness insurance, okay, let's apply for that got that paid out with disability insurance apply for that claim was accepted, we needed to figure out some cost management, and so on and so forth. Now, everybody was because of COVID had people out of work, or, you know, they were on serve, or whatever. So, so this was a common practice everyone was participating in, and we'd made the decision to get rid of one of our cars, and just be a single car family, and we were barely using that, you know, in the COVID, right of the year. So. So all, you know, that these sort of practical plan for understood about things we're all being dealt with, in the first few months after, then the sort of, you know, existential questions you're getting at, sort of came up, and but they become very real. And it's bizarre, because you're, you're facing, you know, sort of like this, in some ways, sort of terrifying question. And at, but even those, eventually round back to practical decisions that you have to make, I started thinking, Well, you know, what, what am I going to do now? Should I get a job? Or should I not, you know, or strike continue to try to pick up my, my effort to do something freelance. And, you know, I was talking to the oncologist and he's saying, you know, it's disappoint, maybe just like, we don't know where this is going to go. But you've got your disability insurance, you know, why don't you just focus on your health for a bit. And, and, and that was generally advice I'm getting from my friends and family and so on. But 10, then, so I thought, so then I think about that, and I think about well, I'd learned a term that is common to people who are under cancer treatment, and that, you know, periodically, you have to go for a scan that measures the progress or, or hopefully the reversal of your tumors and everything. And so you develop what's called scan xiety anxiety around the skin. And so leading up to the end of October, when the first one was coming is when I started thinking about that, and I started thinking about it, from a very young age, like the sort of like, darkest thoughts where, you know, I might not be here that long. And so, like, what do I need to take care of, you know, for my family, in terms of, you know, so I actually had were conversations with my financial advisor, and one of her assistants, I had a few of those where it was just me on the phone, not Jeanette, not my wife, or anything, I just didn't want her to be sort of hearing some of this. And as I was asking sort of thing, so how do we what do we have to do like other things, I have to get an order, what are they? And so and I wasn't a mess, I was as I was, you know, discussing these things. And because I kind of processed the thought that the thought of it the terror of your own life ending lot shorter than you wanted it to, and then move on to okay, but what do we do between now and whatever, if it's a number of years that I can count on one hand that I have left? According to the stats kind of thing, then I want to, I'm going to be doing stuff with Jeanette, I want to, I want us to go do stuff and you know, it's which was what we were planning for early retirement years anyways, but now you're trying to move it up to your point. And then, um, but, you know, that's just where the COVID wrench gets thrown into a tube because whatever plans or thoughts or, or ideas that that I I wanted to do well, they were limited as they were for everyone else in that, like, you know, so we couldn't take a couple months and go south for the winter or anything like that, because of the the situation. Since then, I've been had those, those conversations have continued. And they, they've kind of come full circle to the point where in my last scan that I had in January, it had some very good news. And then it showed a complete disappearance of a lot of the spots that they initially had identified as potentially cancer. And they said, either the pills cleaned it up, or it was post surgical scarring on other or, you know, fluids that were in your system, you know, your chest at the time. And from a money perspective, well, that then throws the pump for Okay, so I have the risk of not, maybe not having a lot of, of of runway left, but wanting to do a lot of things which have to fund now. But then there's also the risk of the runway being a lot longer than I thought it's and it's as long as what it might have been otherwise. In which case, you know, the longevity risk is there again. It's like, I got going, at some point, it's actually amusing to me, because these are, these are things and topics that I've written about disgust about and, or whatever. And it's always been theoretical. And here I am living these these very real decisions, not that other people haven't lived them before me, I'm not the first person, but there is certainly a change in perspective from being the person that in the past, I would have interviewed, right?

Preet Banerjee:

No, no, I totally get I mean, so many, so many of these financial decisions we make, they are so abstract, because we're just not connected to these future potential realities. I mean, you've seen the studies that that show you that you ask someone how much they want to save for retirement, they'll say x, you then show them a rendering of what they will look like when they're 70. And then ask them how much you want to save for retirement, they'll say, well, it's greater than x, right. And so the more or I guess, the more concrete and less abstract you can make those those future realities, the more real they get, and they affect the decisions that we make. But for the most part, people do sort of look at these as more abstract decisions, they Well, I know, the right thing to do is to, you know, make sure that have proper disability insurance, and to save for retirement. But you know, you, the gravity of that becomes heavier as those things approach. And when you have these other realities that get thrust upon you, it just completely turns your world upside down.

Darin Diehl:

Yeah, that's a very accurate description. Because, you know, at the end of the day, you're having to have these human conversations with, you know, your spouse, and your children or adult, my case, my adult children about these different possibilities. And then, you know, you get to a point where you don't want that to be your everyday life, you know, you want to just sort of see people and visit and enjoy people and stuff. But, you know, I, it's, it's, once you get past, the terror, which is going to be there initially, it's just so odd how quickly you flip the switch over to logical thinking again, and it comes into play. And you you start sorting through actual decisions, you have to make that have a practical implication, on, on on money and your lifestyle, everything else. But, you know, it can be and I can get, you know, if you're the person who's gone through the you might be in a situation where you're at a point where you can talk about those things sooner than you know, maybe your close friends and your family are comfortable talking about them with you. And, you know, I've like, I've been on walks with a friend or where, you know, I blurted out, well, you know, I might be here in a couple years, and blah, blah, and I'm just sort of dropped that as a little phrase. And I realizing, thinking about it from the other person's perspective. I say, Man, don't say that, what the hell, they don't want to hear that. Like, and it's like so one of the most helpful pieces of advice I got was from a friend of a friend boat, and both the friend and this friend of the friend are both financial services, people, education, people, and so on. And this sunlight, the friend in between introduced the two of us and this lady had a chat with me. She's got lung cancer, the same kind I have, and she gave me some advice to pop to follow a couple of patient support groups that are on like Facebook, and they're there. The incredible thing Preet is that there's these groups, and they're actually specific, not To the kind of cancer you have, but right down to the kind of mutation you have, and then the pill that you're on. So I'm in one of those groups, where everyone has the exact same lung cancer, the exact same sub mutation, and then they're on the exact same medication. And so you're in that group, and you're talking. Now, a lot of the discussion is, Hey, does anyone have, you know, this side effect, you know, or, or something, but there's also people that are sort of saying, you know, last night, I talked to my family about X or Y, and, you know, I realized, one mistake I've been making is, you know, I need to lay the groundwork a little sooner as to what we're going to be talking about. So people are prepared, you know, it's like, real practical advice about how you, you know, deal with your friends and family and about these topics. But I, I don't want to give the impression that I'm constantly just thinking about the financial aspect of it, it's just that your life and, and is so tied to money decisions throughout it, as you know, I mean, you've dedicated your life to educating people about this, that, yeah, and when it moves from the theoretical to the highly, highly personal, it, it's a very, very different feeling.

Preet Banerjee:

I remember back when I was an advisor, and I was insurance licensed. And I remember a senior advisor in the office, he took me sign, he said, you know, you really need to think about insurance and the role that it plays in financial planning, and risk mitigation, it's key, and he said, you know, most advisors don't really become true advisors until they have to deliver like a death benefit check. And so one of their clients, you know, passes away, and, you know, they had insurance in place, they deliver that check, and they see the impact of that the person who died doesn't, but, you know, hopefully, they had at least that peace of mind, knowing that they had that coverage. But, you know, especially when it's unexpected. And he said, you know, if you take a look at all the advisors, and planners out there who have had a client have a critical illness, a death a disability, and then there was some plan in place that advise it, that's when they become really like an advisor or planner, that's when it's kind of like Neo, you know, all of a sudden, he sees the matrix. Yeah. It's like that, that, that that moment, and that does feel moment. Yeah, it doesn't just happen just by thinking about it, something has to happen to you, for you to see the world in a different way, kind of like, you know, what you've described. But I think the last thing that I wanted to leave off on is, you know, you've shared a lot of advice for people, you know, the takeaways and because you are, you know, a financial educator yourself, you know, what is sort of the advice that you have for any role, whether it's planners, individuals, what do you want people to take away from your sharing this story?

Darin Diehl:

Yeah, I think, um, I guess there's, you know, I've wrestled with that, because I people, some have asked me that question, not quite the way you've asked it, but they've said, you know, what's your, your biggest takeaway over the last, you know, several months, even three quarters of the year now. And it's, I think it boils down to two different things from a, sort of, from a sort of purely sort of financial education side point. It's like, I remember, a friend of mine, who was more of a pure marketer at once said to me, you know, we work in a category that that's a low interest category, and I said, Well, what do you mean by that? But, well, you know, it's like, we were in the entertainment industry or whatever, whatever, you know, it's not hard to get people's attention because they're, this is what they're craving. But it's, it's remarkably Not everyone gets up every morning and because, gee, I really want to get educated about actuarial tables. Not that you have to go that far. But it's, it's, it's so it's a low it, there's a and it's not people think there's a binary choice between being completely uneducated, and becoming a financial expert. And it's not it's just a path. It's a path that you walk down. And it doesn't mean you you're not going to use professional advice. You know, if that's what you want. The bigger problem is people you know, wondering if they should use professional advice and see if they'd if they do they think they now have they can shut off their education. Sounds great. Oh, I have somebody takes care of that. The bank takes care of that. My broker takes care of that. You know, my financial planner or my accountant, and never surrender to any professional no matter doesn't nothing to do with their integrity, it has to do with your own understanding of the decisions you have to make never surrendering and any of your decision making and your your ability to learn about these things. And so that's what I've tried to put, you know, instill on my own kids. You know, one of your sort of colleagues in the, in the industry, Kelly Kean wrote a book a couple years ago, that I understand she just updated with some COVID stuff.

Preet Banerjee:

Yeah, I think it's called talk money to me.

Darin Diehl:

Yes.

Preet Banerjee:

So it's a new COVID updated edition, which I think just launched on Wednesday, yeah, the

Darin Diehl:

24th. But the original version, a couple Christmases ago, I basically bought all three of my kids a copy, and I said, read this book. And when you've completed reading it, I'm going to give you you know, X number of dollars. So it was a, it was a it was an incentive type deal. But one of them, you know, had completed it within a couple months, the other one a few months later, and the other one took her more a year. But the point is, it was, this isn't, no one's saying you have to go get your MBA in financial services. But, you know, the more you understand the basics, and, and that means, and, as you know, the most frustrating thing is that people will have a benefits package of work that they don't really look at. And then they don't understand, for instance, the RSP matching, and, and so they are literally leaving money on the table, which is the expression that we used in the industry to sort of talk don't leave money on the table. So you mean, so you know, that you've got to lower your zero to include you pay every penny of room that you have, that gets matched. And then from there and plan your your spending. So so there's so so oddly, what that it's that lesson of living beneath your means, which is the the so that you have some flexibility to to do risk mitigation, savings, and, and so on and planning. So that's that that was sort of one I was just thankful for that I'd gotten into that strategy. And again, I told you before, I'm not great at budgeting, so I didn't we, we pay yourself first instead, right, as a way of forced budgeting. But then on the sort of more sort of broader view, when you think, you know, life and everything. I think it boils down to this, I've kind of made this point that if my existence is going to be a lot shorter than I'd hoped. And I believe me, I totally have hoped that it won't be and there's reason, actual, medical reasons to believe that, you know, it could be much better than it initially appeared that it might be. One should live one's life With that in mind, and I want to live my life, you know, by and I if you've asked me what the biggest takeaways, I've embraced gratefulness in a way like I haven't done for a long, long time I am so I get so much joy just for taking my dog on on seven or 8k walk down a, you know, a Creek Park, in Mississauga, and, and, you know, it's just, there's joy in that there's joy and just spending some time with my family. And we've all had to endure this crazy year, that stressed and caused us a grief in different ways. And for some people losing loved ones as part of the grief. But it is, you know, I would say if people could embrace like, a gratefulness and then also an understanding of man every day is a gift. And it doesn't mean that, you know, you have to climb a mountain every day or be on a beach every day. But you know, you still if you could look at it. And I recognize even when I say that every day is a gift that there are times in my life when I heard that message to and my thought I understood it and I, you know, openly agreed with the person making that point and Carpe Diem and everything, but I guess there's, as we've mentioned a few times in this conversation, there's a level of this is so real for me now. That it just drives it home, but that that, you know, from a life perspective point of view, that would be the thing that I take away from this and I tried other people to, to, to benefit them by by espousing that point of view.

Preet Banerjee:

Yeah, and I think, to your first point, I think something that has kind of struck me as you were talking about, you know, having benefits at work. And, you know, your sort of generation having gone through a couple of layoffs before. And they take a look at the world around me now, and how there has been a shift where the liability has been shifted towards the worker from the company in terms of benefits, as we have the gig economy, a lot of people who are self employed or working on contract, and they also may not sort of take a look at what the value of benefits are at, you know, some of the bigger sort of legacy companies. And so, you know, this, this is kind of a blind spot for a lot of people, and they don't even have benefit coverage, whether it's private or through work. And I think that's something especially for people who are more, you know, self employed. And again, is that liability has been sort of shifted on to the individual is really something people need to take into account. I see a lot of people who are self employed who don't have disability insurance, and you know, it's the first thing I'll tell them, You need to get disability insurance, if you're self employed, or if you're, you know, working for a company and they don't have the appropriate level of coverage, you can get it piggyback plan, you can top up and it picks up where that one leaves off. But you know, I want to say Darren, you're a great friend. And I'm glad to hear the latest round of news you had told me about that. That sort of the the recent progress updates, so I'm really glad to hear that and I look forward to you know, swinging by when when the pandemic is, yeah.

Unknown:

Grab it out. I'm

Preet Banerjee:

gonna drive over to daddy's donuts pick up a box of doughnuts and head on over. I'm only gonna let you have one because I guess

Darin Diehl:

yeah, this for a downtown trip for me to meet you. It would probably require us grabbing lunch at the senator.

Preet Banerjee:

rates. Yes, yeah. Can you do that anytime,

Darin Diehl:

when that can happen again.

Preet Banerjee:

All right. Well, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast to share your story. I know a lot of people will will benefit from it. So so thank you so much.

Darin Diehl:

Thank you every day is a gift.

Preet Banerjee:

If you want more personal finance content, or you have questions for me or topic suggestions for the podcast, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram, same handle in both cases at Preet Banerjee, I also have two YouTube channels, you can subscribe to my main channel which covers personal finance and investing topics that are global in scope, and a Canadian specific channel as well. That's it for this episode. Thank you for listening.