On September 30, 2021, I received a pathology report informing me I have Stage IV prostate cancer. Scans taken a few days later showed that although the cancer was still “low volume,” it had already spread rapidly from the source tumor to my lymph nodes and bones. I was 48.
What followed was aggressive treatment, I am now enrolled in a clinical trial at the Phil Knight Cancer Institute in Portland, Oregon and receiving three separate forms of therapy along with palliative care. At the time of this writing, the cancer in my bones is apparently killed and the cancer remaining in my lymphatic system, while still there, has not progressed. In other words, right now things are stable.
In addition to being a metastatic cancer patient, I am a husband to an amazing wife, father to two beautiful daughters, a son, brother, uncle, colleague, and friend. I am also a Certified Financial Planner™ and an owner of this firm. With that beloved family and community in mind, I’ve had to retool my personal financial and estate plans around my diagnosis and, in all probability, a significantly shortened life expectancy. This involves a restatement of my revocable trust, tuning up beneficiary designations on certain accounts, some engineering surrounding life insurance and investments, collaborative planning with my business partner regarding our business, charitable giving and running projections of various strategies, all with the primary goal of effecting an efficient transfer of assets to my spouse, daughters, and other beneficiaries when my time is up.
It also heavily involves life-planning, altering with care and compassion how I will spend my remaining years, especially while I am still functional. Travel, things to learn, things to write, people to connect with, people & communities to serve. Essentially, how to make the best use of the most valuable of all resources: time.
A few years ago, my business partner and I came up with an anthem to describe how we view our practice. It reads:
Let’s talk about life
About how you plan to live
The unanswered questions
Understanding sources of fear and anxiety
Your concerns for the future
Freedom to have bigger ideas
Imagining what wealth can unlock for you
Caring for the individual
Casting a legacy
A sacred trust
Understanding all the pieces
And how they all come together
As I face, head-on and eyes up, my mortality, my responsibilities, my community, my loved ones, the manifold opportunities and risks of the world, never before have these phrases been more relevant in my own personal life. The key word, of course, is the last one. How to achieve, with my financial resources and skills, that which triages and accomplishes my goals, newly informed by an incurable cancer and shortened life expectancy, in the most efficient, the most optimal, manner possible?
For me, one of the defining elements of the above question is that I love this profession. At now 50 and multiple decades into my career, one that spans counseling, banking, trust & estate administration, and wealth management, I’m basically at the height of my professional powers; and with a great set of teams behind me providing operational support and continuity, combined with amazing modern technology, I can work anywhere in the world so long as there is an internet connection.
In any event, as a financial planner and wealth advisor, one who is now over a year into a fascinating cancer adventure, and thus being introduced to many other men and their spouses from all over the country who are facing a similar situation to mine, often in varying degrees of shock and confusion, I’m intentionally adding a focus to my practice to serve people in my newfound cancer community, a focus steeped in a common experience and empathy.
If this is a conversation that you would like to have with me, just let me know and we can talk it over.
Chad Campbell, CFP®, CTFA
“… what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver