VIDEO: coping with the financial cost of cancer

A quarter of people with cancer in the South-East have no savings to cushion the financial impact of cancer, according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support out this week.

The charity’s report, No Small Change, shows money worries can affect people with cancer when they least expect it.

It warns that a lack of financial safety net could leave an estimated 63,000 people with cancer in the South East and 700,000 UK-wide, vulnerable to hardship due to the unexpected cost of cancer.

Macmillan explains cancer can be tough on people’s finances as there may be significant loss of income from being too unwell to work and additional travel costs to and from hospital appointments and increased heating bills.

Previous research by the charity has shown, for most people, cancer costs an average of £570 a month in lost income or increased expenditure4.

People living with cancer in Sussex can find support at the Macmillan Horizon Centre.

Janet Pratt is a Macmillan administrator for the Welfare Benefits Service and works at the Horizon Centre. She is the first port of call for people living with cancer and wanting benefit advice who visit or call the centre from across Brighton & Hove, East and West Sussex.

Janet said: “People can come to us in a complete and utter state. Sometimes they have had to give up work, maybe because of risk of infection or because of physical changes. Being faced with no income makes their situation feel insurmountable.

“People can soon feel out of control. We cannot solve everything for them but it will be one less thing off their mind. They are struggling to cope with their diagnoses, they might be tired and overwhelmed so being able to help them with their money worries is hugely rewarding and a vital service.

“The additional costs start to mount up when you get a cancer diagnosis and you don’t always realise how much you are spending. For instance, you may need to buy: pads for dressings; new clothes because you have either gained or lost a lot of weight, additional travel costs, maybe different nutritional advice, liquidisers and cookery books.

“Sadly, some people are too proud to ask for help. It’s not just about money, it is also about health and care too. If benefits are awarded it could help some people to regain independence and are less likely to feel like they are relying on relatives and friends.

“We are here to offer free, confidential advice to patients, carers and family members about benefits and charitable grants that may be available. If people need further financial advice - on things like debt, employment, budgeting or energy bills - we can refer them to other specialist services that can help.”

Macmillan Welfare Benefit Advisers work from The Macmillan Horizon Centre, Britol Gate, Brighton and in West Sussex and East Sussex.

The Horizon Centre is available to anyone living in the Sussex area, call 01273 468770 option 2 or email horizonbenefitsadvice@macmillan.org.uk

For the West Sussex Macmillan Welfare Benefit Service call 01903 532234 or email macmillanbenefits@westsussexcab.org.uk and is available to residents of West Sussex.

For East Sussex Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service call 01323 635989 or email macmillan@moneyadviceplus.com and is available to residents of East Sussex.