Grants of nearly £100,000 were handed out to 320 cancer patients in Northamptonshire last year by Macmillan Cancer Support, it has been revealed.
The charity helped a record number of people in 2014 with costs arising from their treatment.
New figures from the charity highlight the financial isolation that often follows a cancer diagnosis. Patients in Northamptonshire received more than £93,993 for vital essentials such as heating bills, clothing and transport costs, as well as practical household items like washing machines – a 9.2 percent increase on 2013.
Research by Macmillan also found that four out of five people are, on average, £570 a month worse off as a result of a cancer diagnosis.
Wade Rathbone, from Northampton, knows firsthand how vital this support is. He received a Macmillan grant of £220 to support him following his diagnosis for liver cancer.
He said: “I was diagnosed with liver cancer in April 2014 and had to give up work, which obviously affected my finances. I am having chemotherapy which is painful, makes me feel ill and I lost a lot of weight, but it is currently stopping the cancer from spreading.
Jenny has been wonderful, helping me with benefits forms and giving me advice and the Macmillan grant means I can go to the gym, giving me the chance to do things to try to keep as well as I canWade Rathbone, from Northampton
“I am on the transplant list for a new liver and my surgeon has advised me to keep as active as I can and if possible to regain some weight. Through my GP I managed to get a discounted gym membership and Jenny Russell at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Northampton applied for a Macmillan grant for me to meet the gym membership cost for six months.
“Jenny has been wonderful, helping me with benefits forms and giving me advice and the Macmillan grant means I can go to the gym, giving me the chance to do things to try to keep as well as I can. It’s hard, but I have managed to put on some weight while I wait for a transplant, so it’s made a real difference.”
Rachel Hobbs, Macmillan Cancer Support senior communications officer, said of the record numbers: “Our latest grants figures demonstrate the dramatic financial impact cancer has on the lives of patients and their loved ones. In 2014 Macmillan helped more people than ever before, as we continued to work to ensure that nobody faces cancer alone.
“People undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment should not have the additional worry of how to pay for absolute basics such as heating their home, or bedding to keep warm. There are 2.5million people now living with and beyond cancer in the UK.
“And with this figure set to double by 2030, we believe that our next government needs to make cancer a priority. That’s why Macmillan is urging all of the main political parties to commit to matching the best cancer outcomes in Europe by the end of the next Parliament.”
In 2014, Macmillan awarded more than £10 million in grants to 33,011 people across the UK. The Macmillan grants programme gives payments to cancer patients who have limited financial resources and are in need of immediate assistance, giving an average level of help of £303 per person assisted.
Macmillan helped more patients with clothing than with any other cost arising from having cancer. This was followed by grants to help with the cost of fuel bills and the cost of travelling to and from hospital for treatment.
Rachel Hobbs added: “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, more than 634 people in the UK receive a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support.
Macmillan relies on public donations to continue providing this vital financial support to people affected by cancer. 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.