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Cumbria cancer patients rely on charity handouts

More than 240 cancer patients in Cumbria were forced to rely on handouts to help cover costs relating to their treatment last year.

Charity Macmillan has revealed it gave out grants of almost £72,000 to patients across the county in 2013.

The money was needed to pay for clothing and bedding, cover heating and transport costs, and buy practical items like new washing machines.

The charity says its figures highlight the financial isolation that often follows a cancer diagnosis.

Dr Fran Woodard, of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “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.”

Across the UK more patients were helped 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 travel to and from hospital for treatment.

Dr Woodard said 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, while certain chemotherapy drugs, steroids and hormonal therapies can cause weight gain. Cancer patients may also need different clothes because of an abdominal swelling, they have to adapt to a colostomy bag or need special bras following a mastectomy.

The charity adds that 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.

Fuel bills are also likely to be higher as cancer patients spend long periods of time at home and feel the cold more because of their condition.

Macmillan says that applications for grants to cover travel costs have continued to rise in recent years.

These patients often live in isolated rural areas, have to travel miles to a specialist centre or are having intensive courses of treatment that mean travelling to hospital every day.

Across the UK, Macmillan awarded over £9.6m to more than 32,500 patients.

Applications can be made through health or social care professionals who complete a form on behalf of the patient. Grants are targeted to those who have a lack of resources to fall back on and applicants must fulfil certain financial criteria.

The grants are funded thanks to donations to the charity. To find out more call the national Macmillan helpline on 0808 808 0000.

People affected by cancer may be entitled to state benefits and financial support if their income is affected, though exactly how much they can get depends on individual circumstances.

Have your say

I am glad to see that 32,500 people were given grants to help them through one of the worst illness's you can experience. If this is an affordable exercise, I would like to know why during 2 years of treatment of breast cancer there was not even any support available, ie advice or just someone there. I lost my partner 4 years ago to a type of cancer caused by Asbestos, again we received no help even when in the last 12 months of his life he was too ill to get out of bed. I was told that it is due to lack of funding, there is one thing certain I will not donate to them, in fact I find it quite upsetting when they wave their collecting boxes in front of me. I live on my own and some support while I struggled managing my treatment would have been great. Even when I came out of hospital less than 48 hours after my op, I was told not to even make a cup of tea for 2 weeks, or make a meal etc, McMillan only if you are lucky. I live in a big town in Cumbria not on the top of A mountain

Posted by June on 22 January 2014 at 20:15

its awful to think of them going threw such a bad time in there life and have to rely on handouts.
then you get Sellafield wanting to build more under ground storage and reactors not knowing what will happen and how it will affect cumbria and peoples health years down the road

Posted by oliver reed on 17 January 2014 at 19:24

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