Cancer patients benefit from £71,000 in grants but charity warns 'financial isolation' can follow a diagnosis

MORE than 241 cancer patients in Cumbria in 2013 were given a Macmillan grant to help them with costs relating to their cancer treatment, says the charity.

New figures also highlight the 'financial isolation' that often follows a cancer diagnosis.

Patients in Cumbria received over £71,479 for clothing, bedding, heating bills and transport, as well as practical household items like washing machines, said the charity.

Across the UK more patients were helped with clothing than with any other cost arising from having cancer.

“Our latest grants figures are evidence of the financial isolation that can seriously impact people living with cancer,” says Dr Fran Woodard, Macmillan Cancer Support director for England.

“To feel unable to buy the clothes you need to keep warm, for example, is an unacceptable reality for thousands of vulnerable cancer patients at a time when, on average, their income halves and their outgoings rocket.”

The need for new clothing often follows 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 certain 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 adapt to a colostomy bag or need special bras following a mastectomy.

As well as being a practical help, providing clothing can help psychologically as ill fitting clothing can be a reminder of a person’s poor health.

Many people living with cancer have high fuel bills because they spend long periods of time at home during treatment or recovery and feel the cold more because of their condition.

Minimising the risk of infection is important whilst undergoing cancer treatment and this means extra costs for frequently washing clothes, towels and sheets, and for bathing and general hygiene.

Macmillan has found that applications for grants to cover travel costs have continued to rise.

It could be the patient needs to travel long distances for treatment due to rural isolation or because their cancer needs to be treated at a specialised site which could be far from home.

Often grant applications come from patients who are required to have regular outpatient treatment which can be intensive.

Macmillan awarded over £9.6million to over 32,500 patients in the UK in 2013.

The Macmillan grants programme gives payments to cancer patients who have limited financial resources and are in need of immediate assistance.

Macmillan grants are used to meet urgent practical needs which would otherwise not be met.

These include the cost of additional items or services that have become necessary as a result of a patient’s cancer experience such as clothing, bedding, heating bills and transport, practical items such as stair lifts, showers and washing machines or short breaks and holidays.

Applications are made by patients through health or social care professionals who complete an application form on their behalf.

Grants are targeted to people who have a lack of resources to fall back onto and they must fulfil certain financial criteria.

Dr Woodard concludes: “Macmillan believes no one should face cancer alone and we urge any cancer patients who are struggling financially to contact our helpline to find what support is available to them.”

Every week, over 600 people receive a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support.

To continue providing this vital financial support Macmillan relies on public donations. To donate to Macmillan Cancer Support, please call 0300 1000 200 or visit macmillan.org.uk/donate

Macmillan grants are just one of the ways Macmillan can help with the cost of cancer. For more information about financial support available to patients, please call freephone 0808 808 0000.

 

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