PEOPLE living with cancer are facing a “triple threat” due to the cost of living crisis, Covid-19 and the financial fallout of their diagnosis.

Macmillan Cancer Support is urging patients on low-incomes to seek support with many people struggling with the financial fallout of a diagnosis.

Last year, the charity gave more than £614,000 to around 1,700 people living with cancer in the North East, with £27,300 given to 76 people in Stockton alone.

The grants helped people in the region pay for essentials such as heating bills and hospital transport costs, after they were diagnosed with cancer or underwent cancer treatment.

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A cancer diagnosis often brings increased and unexpected living costs, such as requiring wigs or post-surgery clothing, a new bed for someone who can no longer climb the stairs to their bedroom, or fresh bedding for those experiencing incontinence and other treatment side-effects.

However, one of the biggest expenses facing people with cancer is higher energy bills, with many people undergoing treatment needing to have the heating on for longer due to side-effects.

In recognition of the extraordinary challenges facing cancer patients in 2022, Macmillan has made an extra £3.5 million of emergency funds available to help pay escalating fuel bills.

The Northern Echo:

Dr Hassan Tahir, Macmillan, personalised care lead for the region, Northern Cancer Alliance and a GP partner at Marsh House Medical Practice, Billingham with a special interest in cancer and palliative care, said: “It’s been an incredibly tough few years for people with cancer. Covid-19 continues to cause great challenges for the clinically vulnerable and now cancer patients are having to contend with a cost of living crisis that has seen prices for fuel and food rocket.

“Macmillan is here for everyone with cancer. But we know there are always more people that we could be being helped. So, if you are someone in need of support, we will do everything we can to ensure you get the practical advice and help that can make life with cancer not simply about survival.”

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Across the UK, Macmillan gave over £12.3m to over 33,000 cancer patients in 2021.

Billingham man Andrew Scullion, 54, is a patient of Dr Tahir after being diagnosed with colon cancer.

The plumber, who works for Esh Group but is on statutory sick pay, has been finding it tough financially.

He said:  “One minute you are busy with work the next minute your having to take time off with nothing but time to think about things and worry.

“I phoned the Macmillan hotline and they put in me touch with their welfare benefits advisor and I was told to apply for a grant, in addition to my statutory sick and universal credit payments. I received a £350 grant very quickly, which has been incredibly useful.

“I know I’m fortunate in that my prognosis is good but it’s hard enough dealing with cancer worries without the additional layer of financial concerns from not being able to work. I would encourage anyone experiencing financial stress because of a cancer diagnosis to contact Macmillan who can help you cope emotionally and practically with the issues faced.”

To find out more, including who can apply, call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 (open seven days a week, 8am to 8pm) and talk to the Macmillan Welfare Rights Team.

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