Macmillan Cancer Support carried out a survey of more than 2,000 people. The results showed four in 10 cancer patients are struggling to keep up with household bills, mortgage payments and credit commitments. Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are struggling not only with the physical and emotional impact of the disease, but a financial burden as well.
One in three among the group said their illness directly affects their money situation.
The vast majority of cancer patients receive free care and treatment from the NHS. That's because they've paid into the system for the whole of their working life. But patients often need to pay for additional treatments and for travel to and from appointments.
This is the case for my husband and I. He hasn't ever started proper cancer treatment yet, despite being diagnosed with the condition nearly a year ago. He's had a tumour removed and other exploratory operations. He constantly attends appointments at hospital, only to be told that one thing depends on another being done, in an endless cycle of passing the parcel. Parking fees at various hospitals are astronomically high, and he's awaiting a Blue Badge to use in his car for free parking.
The charity’s survey also found that the cost of cancer was forcing many people to cut back on spending on basic things like clothing and food.
New clothing—that's not for me. I haven't bought anything for myself for years. Sometimes I feel like a second-class senior citizen. I cut back on unseen luxuries like underwear. I even cut my own hair since I sold the last lot, which measured 17inches in length. Now, I hack it by the handful in the back garden, grabbing tufts and cutting it as short as possible, despite not being able to see what I'm doing.
One in seven of the people questioned bought cheaper or less nutritious food. Worryingly, one in 10 in this group said they were skipping meals or reducing portions.
We buy cheap food, but don't cut back on the quantity. My husband is too thin as it is. He needs to eat more because his condition is eating away at his body. However, it seems every week, food costs have increased.
Eating well has a big impact on cancer patient’s overall health, and can affect how well they cope with gruelling courses of chemotherapy, cuts, and other treatments.
Macmillan said that household heating bills could also rise, as people with cancer tend to feel the cold more, especially during treatment.
Last winter, my husband needed the gas fire on every evening. He shivered without it. We were in for a shock with our latest gas bill. It increased by a third—money we can ill afford to pay.
But help is at hand. Various charities have been visiting and helping with our various worries. As a result, a woman from McMillan is scheduled to visit us next week to see if they can offer financial aid. Our outstanding credit commitments will never be paid because of my husband's age. The best plan would be to have them cut.
Does illness cause a financial burden for you?