My View, Dr David Crichton: Coping with the financial cost of cancer

Derek and Rhonda Jones, of Doncaster
Derek and Rhonda Jones, of Doncaster
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Cancer can take its toll on people’s lives in many ways, but one that’s not always foreseen is the financial burden.

Figures released by the respected Macmillan Cancer Support charity show nearly 1,800 Doncaster people are diagnosed with cancer every year, and this figure is rising. Cancer could force them and their families to find hundreds of pounds a month to cover the costs of the disease.

Macmillan reckons the average family is left with around £375 every month after paying for necessities. Previous research suggested cancer has an average monthly cost of £570 when additional expenditure and loss of income is taken into account.

Macmillan, a charity with which I have close ties, highlights that an adult diagnosed with cancer could leave the average family with a potential shortfall, even if they were to cut out all leisure activities and reduce their spending to bare essentials.

They are urging people to seek financial help as soon as possible to stop money worries spiralling out of control and, here in Doncaster a free service already exists to prevent that happening. The Meeting New Horizons team provide benefits advice, access to grants and signposting to other community and support organisations. They can be contacted direct at their base at Finningley or via the Living Well Information and Support Service at the St John’s Information Centre at Tickhill Road Hospital site.

Grandparents Rhonda and Derek Jones, from Kirk Sandall, are grateful for the support they received from the team. Rhonda is full-time carer for Derek, 63, currently away from work after being diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in December 2014. Derek’s treatment started in January 2015 and completed in June, putting a massive strain on the couple as Rhonda had also cared for her 82-year-old disabled dad.

Rhonda said the support they received was wonderful and that they couldn’t have managed without it. Cancer turned their lives upside down and caused them to worry about their finances constantly. But from the minute they were put in touch with the team nothing was too much trouble. They helped fill out forms and enabled the couple to take control of the situation.

There’s a short video about the service, by student doctors Will Hodgkinson and Anna Wilkinson. You can watch in the time it at: newhorizonsdoncaster.co.uk.

Macmillan will spend almost £6 million over the next five years on improving cancer services regionally, including here in Doncaster. The Macmillan Living With and Beyond Cancer Programme is working to ensure that everyone who is diagnosed with any cancer lives well after a cancer diagnosis.

n Contact Meeting New Horizons at 01302 802005.