Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

A tough diagnosis brings on unexpected generosity

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: A few months ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and am currently receiving chemotherapy. As it has come up, I've notified my (other) medical providers.

I have been a patient at a privately-owned and operated manual physical therapy company for a couple of years (receiving treatment for a 45-year-old neck injury).

I told my physical therapist (not the owner) of my diagnosis and asked her, if she didn't mind, to tell the others. Well, I guess she did, because when I tried to pay on my account, the receptionist told me I didn't I have a balance.

Well, I used to have a balance. It was somewhere around $200. I don't think there was a clerical error.

I believe the owner forgave my debt. He's the type of person who recognizes what he can do in a situation and then does it. I never expected it, but I am so grateful.

How do I thank him, in person or in writing, and let him know how much his gesture means to me?

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-- Grateful in East Tennessee

Dear Grateful: First, you need to make sure this gift was not the result of an error. Reach out to the owner privately (though email) and say, "When I tried to pay my bill, I was told that I don't have a balance. I need to double check with you: Is this an error or an incredibly generous gesture on your part?"

Once he responds, assuming that he is being generous, you should write a note that he could share with the staff. Don't make a specific mention of the dollar amount or this forgiven bill, but do say, "Thank you one and all for your compassion and generosity regarding my current medical challenges. I'm incredibly moved by it. I know I'll get through it; knowing you've 'got my back' (and neck) makes everything easier."

Then -- like any satisfied customer -- you should also reach out on social media to praise this outfit and the work they do, if you haven't done so already.

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