12 months. Over $7,000. 250%.

For over a year, a small group of credit unions have been investigating various debt relief strategies to help members suffering through the financial crisis of cancer.

A member at one of those credit unions, New Orleans Firemen’s FCU, recently benefitted from NOFFCU’s commitment to this cause.

Tina’s* life has been turned inside out by multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer that targets plasma cells, ever since she was diagnosed in 2020.

The anxiety and stress have been overwhelming; keeping up with her NOFFCU car payments has been just the tip of the iceberg:

“Sometimes I get to the point where I just want to say the heck with it all … just let the Lord do what he wants to do and quit doing these treatments. It is a big load to carry physically and financially just trying to make ends meet.

It’s just been a struggle all the way. I’m sitting here trying to figure out how I’m going to survive.”

In March 2024, NOFFCU did something extraordinary: they paused Tina’s car payments for 12 months and dropped the interest rate to 0%.

This will save her and her family over $7,000.

When NOFFCU called Tina to give her the good news, she was thrilled:

“That’s wonderful. Thank you so much. God bless y’all … you’re helping me out tremendously by doing this.”

The pause has already improved Tina’s financial and emotional well-being:

Medical researchers who study cancer-related financial trauma use an assessment called the Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity (COST). COST scores can range from 0-44, with a lower score equating to higher financial toxicity.

In September 2023, Tina’s COST score was 6, indicating a severe level of financial distress.

In April 2024, a week after the payment pause was put into place, Tina’s COST score was 21 — an improvement of 250%.

She attributes the majority of that change to the pause, which will close the gaps between paychecks every month.

NOFFCU will stay in touch with Tina over the next year, monitoring her health and progress. At the end of the pause, they’ll craft a new plan to keep her moving in the right direction.

There’s still work to do to refine the program so it can be expanded responsibly and fairly to help more hurting members like Tina.

It will be built not just on numbers, but also on what returned to Tina’s voice the day she learned she could afford to heal, the essential promise and purpose of our movement:



*name changed for privacy

Andy Janning

Andy Janning

Andy Janning is the author of the books Heroes, Villains, and Drunk Old Men and The Breast Cancer Portrait Project, an 8-time state and national award winner for overall excellence ... Web: andyjanning.com Details