A WOMAN has spoken of her distress after a gym insisted she pay a fee to break her membership, despite her being diagnosed with cancer.

Karen Damestani, 43, of Durham, who attended Bannatyne’s Health Club, in Chester-le-Street, said the firm told her to pay even after she produced a letter from clinical nurse confirming she was undergoing chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

It was only after leaving a bad review on the club’s Facebook page and a “twitter spat” with owner Duncan Bannatyne that the firm agreed to meet with her husband Kaveh yesterday, when the fee was finally waived.

Mrs Damestani said: “I am disgusted. I shouldn’t have had to go through this after the trauma of learning I had cancer. My life has been turned completely upside down.

“They need to look at their policy and see how they treat people with serious illness. It wasn’t about the money. We just don’t want anyone else to go through what we have had to.

“You would have thought that when someone has been diagnosed with a life-changing condition and is unable to attend a gym through no fault of their own, that a modicum of humanity could be shown and any fees waived.”

Mrs Damestani said she had gone to the club to suspend her membership after being diagnosed with cancer on May 21.

She said: “I told them them I had to have six months of chemotherapy and there was the risk of infection. They said I could delay my membership and only pay £10 a month for six months, but I said that wasn’t good enough for me as I wouldn’t be fit enough to return after that period.”

When the matter was taken up with the chain’s head office in Darlington, Mrs Damestani was asked for letter from a clinical nurse to confirm the diagnosis. But, she was told there would still be be a £25 administration charge and £49 fee to cancel.

When Mr Damestani objected, the couple agreed pay £39.20 to cancel the membership.

A week ago Mrs Damestani tweeted Mr Bannatyne a picture of her with a mask on, saying: “I’m still waiting of a response to my previous tweet about your club charging me to leave.

The Northern Echo: "This is me in hospital with no immune system due to my chemotherapy. Now can you see why I can’t use your gym""This is me in hospital with no immune system due to my chemotherapy. Now can you see why I can’t use your gym"

“This is me in hospital with no immune system due to my chemotherapy. Now can you see why I can’t use your gym. you still charge me £39.20 to cancel my membership.”

Mr Damestani, who met with a senior manager yesterday, said: “I had a positive meeting. They admitted they could probably handled things a bit better and will be looking at the policies and keeping in touch.

“They are gong to refund her too. I told them it shouldn’t have taken a email exchange and a twitter spat and public shaming in order to have this meeting."

A Bannatyne Group spokesperson said: “We understand Karen’s individual circumstances and have a great deal of sympathy for her and her family.

One of our senior managers met with her husband on Tuesday and came to an amicable resolution for all parties.”