Saving for retirement as an act of wild optimism

Photo: Mark Makela for The New York Times. "Virginia C. McGuire, her partner, Matthew, and their son, Leo, 9, play the board game Pandemic in their Philadelphia home."

When is setting aside money with which to retire at a happy old age a potentially recklessly optimistic decision? When you have cancer.

Librarian, freelance writer, and mom Virginia C. McGuire writes in the New York Times how during the worst of it, her anxiety was sometimes "all about money," and she worried about what would happen if and when her cancer returned. "Nobody pays freelancers for sick time."

"Sometimes I find it easier to fret about money than to worry about big things like cancer," she writes. "It seemed crazy to keep saving for retirement when my chances of living that long were so uncertain."