Benefit planned for cancer survivor

Published 6:04 am Monday, May 10, 2010

When Kris Wobschall was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, she focused on her survival.

She never imagined that over the next five years, in addition to undergoing chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, she would battle ever rising premiums and out-of-pocket medical bills that would continue to grow thousands upon thousands of dollars every year.

Wobschall was insured through her full-time employer US Bank at the time she was diagnosed, and described herself and her family of five as financially stable at the time. She did not know that the cancer would have such an effect on her financial health too.

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Five years after her first diagnosis, Wobschall has been cancer-free for about 17 months. But, she still bears a $6,700 scar in the form of bills and frequent phone calls from medical centers. Her actual debt is higher, as she was forced to take out loans to finance some of the medical bills.

Wobschall’s friends and family are holding a benefit at the Eagles Club next week to raise money to pay her outstanding medical bills. The event includes a silent auction featuring items like a tandem bike donated by Rydjor Bike Shop, autographed photos of Twins’ hall-of-famer Rod Carew and the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, as well as a variety of gift certificates to local businesses.

Live music will follow in the evening and Modern Woodmen of America will match all funds raised.

Wobschall wasn’t thrilled when her friend Jean Lamont pitched the idea of a benefit to her.

“I wanted to earn the money and pay for my bills myself,” Wobschall explained.

Thus, the reason she has worked part-time at WalMart in addition to her full-time banking job for the past two years — meaning she put in up to 60 hours a week even while undergoing radiation therapy.

Lamont said that Wobschall’s job should be to continue surviving cancer, and it’s up to her friends to help her life return to normal — without the bills and pesky collectors.

Wobschall said she would be happy to continue making monthly payments until her debt is paid off, but that hospital administration hasn’t been keen on that idea.

She wanted to pay $100 a month to each of the three medical facilities where she received treatment, all of which have independent billing policies. Two only gave Wobschall the options of paying in full, or paying up fast before sending her tally to collections.

One has been accepting of monthly payments, she said.

She even complained to the attorney general’s office about the daily phone calls and the threat of collections, which did little but buy her time, she added.

Wobschall and her husband, with their youngest child still at home, ended up opting to let their friends throw the benefit while they continue to live modestly and put in extra hours to pay down bills.

“She should worry just about her health,” Lamont said. “We’ll take care of the rest.”

A Benefit for Kris Wobschall

When: Saturday, May 22

Where: Eagles Aerie 703,

107 11th St. NE

Details: A pool Tournament begins at 1 p.m.; silent auction and $6 beef/pork sandwich dinner is 4 to 7 p.m.; entertainment follows from 8 to 11 p.m.