Cancer - the diagnosis can be terrifying. And the emotional and financial toll can't be underestimated. In addition to worrying about the pain, the suffering and the disease's effect on their loved ones, the afflicted often take extended medical leave, resulting in a financial hit from lost pay. And medical bills for treatments, some not covered by insurance, can quickly wipe out an emergency fund. It's not uncommon for the sick to exhaust their savings and retirement accounts.

"I've seen it all," says Rick Fingerman, founder and president of Financial Planning Solutions, a small shop managing roughly $50 million in Newton, Mass. "Job loss, bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce, credit card debt, you name it."

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