During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we sat down with Georgie and her mum Kim to hear about how her private medical insurance (PMI) plan not only helped her discover her diagnosis at a surprisingly young age, it has allowed her enough flexibility to still do the things that she loves.
Despite her diagnosis and ongoing treatment, Georgie has been doing her best to go about her life as normally as possible. A professional showjumper, she has even been able to compete - in between bouts of chemo – scoring first place in the prestigious Longines Global Champions Tour this summer. “This was a massive thing for her,” explains Georgie’s mum, Kim. “It’s given her the opportunity to continue what she loves doing, which has helped her mentally too.”
Above and beyond
She’s felt supported along the way too. During a period when others have had to wait weeks – even months – for consultations, test results and scans, her specialist consultant has been on-hand since day one. Going above and beyond by allowing her to make contact out of hours on his mobile so she is kept informed – even gifting her an easter egg the day of her diagnosis. “He really is brilliant,” she tells Vitality Insights Hub. “He would only give us information in stages to help ensure I could take it all in, which was extremely helpful.”
However, had Georgie not had private medical insurance (PMI) through Vitality, the situation could have been very different. Aside from being given the flexibility to arrange treatment around her show jumping competition calendar, the offer of an early PET and CT scan, both uncommon for someone her age, was what helped ensure her diagnosis was not delayed – or worse, missed completely.
Georgie has also been able to get access to gene testing also through her PMI which did reveal the existence of the CHEK2 gene, meaning she has a 40% risk of her cancer returning. Knowing this has allowed her to take preventative action and arrange a mastectomy later down the line.
As well as extras such as homeopathy, massage and physio, Georgie has also benefited from the option of remote chemotherapy through her PMI, a pathway she prefers to having treatment in hospital. “The nurses are all lovely,” she tells us. “They visit to do blood tests at home and sit with you while they do the chemo and answer any questions I might have.”
When she has needed to visit a clinic, she’s also taken advantage of a chauffeur service, also covered by Vitality.
The value of cover
Even before the diagnosis, Georgie and her mum, Kim Tomkins, consultant for health and protection insurance comparison service, Usay Compare, were under no illusions about the value of PMI cover.
Up until May 2020, Georgie had worked with her mum selling health and protection insurance, before making the decision to take up riding full time. While cancelling her cover has never crossed her mind, she never expected to use it in this way. “At my age, I thought it would be for a knee injury or broken bone, or something more superficial,” she adds. “I didn’t ever think I would need to make such a big claim in my 20s.”
Since her diagnosis, Georgie has seen three or four of her friends take out PMI cover following her experience, which she has been sharing in a positive way on her Instagram page to raise awareness. “Taking out cover is something that people in their 20s and 30s just put off,” which is a worrying trend she says she hopes to help change.
According to Kim, the industry doesn’t focus enough on attracting younger customers. “The marketing tends to be aimed at people 45 and over, however social media could be a really strong way of encouraging the younger generation to take out health insurance.”
By sharing her story, Georgie has met lots of people of a similar age also with breast cancer and she is seeing an online community starting to form. Both of them are taken aback by how common it is. Their hope is that her experience could be what opens their eyes to the importance of PMI – even for someone Georgie’s age.
“I’ve been lucky that I’ve done things that I’ve wanted to do,” she concludes. “I don’t want to make it sound smaller than it is – because cancer is horrible in so many ways – but my insurance has meant that the whole thing has been more of an inconvenience than something that has been completely life-destroying. It’s definitely made it easier.”
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