Essex: Cancer patients turn to charity for new clothes

HUNDREDS of Essex cancer patients who change body shape after treatment are having to rely on charitable handouts to buy new clothes, figures reveal.

Almost half of patients who received a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support in the last year said they had to use the money to cover the cost of clothing.

The need for new clothing arises from a change in weight or body shape due to the effects of cancer and its treatment or following surgery.

Weight loss is a common symptom of cancer, while chemotherapy drugs, steroids, and hormonal therapies can cause weight gain.

Cancer patients may also need different clothes because they have an abdominal swelling, have to accommodate a colostomy bag or need special bras if they have had a mastectomy.

In Essex 316 people received one-off payments totalling �42,664 for clothing - a fifth of the total amount given in grants over the last 12 months.

It follows a national trend, which has seen more patients being helped for clothing than any other cost arising from having cancer, such as fuel bills or travelling to hospital.

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Across the UK, �2million was handed out to 14,938 patients from June 2011 - June 2012.

According to research, 70% of cancer patients suffer loss of income and increased costs as a direct result of their diagnosis. Amongst these, the average drop is 50%.

General Manager for Macmillan in the South East, Carol Fenton, said: “The sheer number of cancer patients turning to Macmillan for help towards clothing highlights just how much they struggle financially. Clothing is one of a number of hidden costs cancer patients are burdened with at a time when, on average, their income halves and their outgoings rocket.

“Patients already have to deal with the physical changes to their bodies – they shouldn’t have the added stress of not being able to afford new clothes. We urge any cancer patients who are struggling financially to contact our helpline to find what support is available to them.”

In addition to grants, Macmillan provides financial advice via its Support Line on 0808 808 0000.

To donate, or to find out about the help financial support available to patients visit www.macmillan.org.uk

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