Cancer sufferers stressed by extra costs

NEARLY 10,000 cancer patients in Suffolk and Essex could be facing financial hardship because of the extra costs they face after diagnosis.In a survey launched today, 2,480 cancer patients in Suffolk and 7,301 in Essex have told Macmillan Cancer Relief that money worries are second only to pain as a cause of stress.

NEARLY 10,000 cancer patients in Suffolk and Essex could be facing financial hardship because of the extra costs they face after diagnosis.

In a survey launched today, 2,480 cancer patients in Suffolk and 7,301 in Essex have told Macmillan Cancer Relief that money worries are second only to pain as a cause of stress.

The report coincides with the charity's Better Deal campaign, which aims to expose the problem of financial hardship faced by cancer patients and call on the Government to make access to benefits easier.

Stephen Richards, director of Macmillan for Essex and Suffolk, said: “Many people will be shocked to hear that cancer patients in Suffolk and Essex could be suffering problems with debt and financial hardship at a time when they are most vulnerable.

“The issue is rarely talked about but cancer treatment may mean you have to give up work or take time off to care for a partner, so your income may suddenly be slashed in half, yet regular outgoings remain the same.”

Mr Richards stressed that patients would also be likely to face extra bills for travel and parking to get to the hospital for treatment, extra heating bills, prescription charges or new clothes because they have lost weight.

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“In some cases people have told us that they have spent their life savings, have gone into debt or have been in danger of losing their business or home,” he added.

“Though benefits are available for some, the system is a complicated maze and some cancer patients are unaware of their entitlements or find it hard to fill in complicated forms at a time when they are feeling very ill.”

Many people affected by cancer are unaware of what benefits they may be entitled to and Macmillan has found that more than half of all terminally ill patients do not claim the Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance they are entitled to.

Last night representatives from the charity met MPs from across the country at the House of Commons asking them to join the campaign calling on the Government to provide a better deal for cancer patients including ensuring benefits advice is available to everyone at the point of diagnosis.

People affected by cancer or their carers can get more information and a free booklet, Help With the Cost of Cancer, by calling the campaign hotline on 0800 500 800 or logging onto www.macmillan.org.uk/abetterdeal

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