8th June 2023

Cost of living crisis for cancer patients

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A recent OnePoll survey has revealed over a quarter of people with cancer are now more worried about the cost-of-living crisis than their diagnosis. 80% of people with cancer are worried about the cost of travel to their hospital appointments, with over three quarters (77%) fearing the cost-of-living crisis will affect their chances of successful treatment for cancer.

Margaret Burns was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2021. Speaking to The Daily Record last year, Margaret explained the impact the crisis was having on her:

“My electricity and gas bills have gone up from about £60 a month to almost £150. I’ve got hospital and hospice appointments, can barely afford to get to them and I can’t afford to eat properly.

“Right now I’m on steroids and it’s making me eat like a horse but I really can’t afford the food.”

Margaret is far from alone. Last year, we gave out over £66,000 worth of financial relief grants to those living with lung cancer. During the first three months of 2023, we have already awarded over £20,000 in grants, supporting 182 patients, and with the crisis far from over, demand for our service remains at its highest levels.

UK inflation has now risen to 10.4%. Year on year prices for groceries has hit an all-time high of 17.5%, with eggs, milk and cheese rising at the fastest rates. Based on the current price rises, the average annual household shopping bill is over £5,600.

And while the energy price cap rise due for April has now been delayed until July, the ongoing threat of further hikes remains ever present.

A lung cancer diagnosis already creates physical, emotional and financial turmoil. People with lung cancer often lose weight as a result of their illness and are therefore more vulnerable to the cold. Even before the initial hikes, we saw a 20% increase in patients seeking financial help with energy bills alone.

The current situation is making the hardest of times even more desperate. Our grants will not solve this dire situation, but they can provide a momentary letup from the anxiety many patients currently face.

Mental health relief

As well as the financial relief our support can have, it can also offer the chance to escape the reality of an incurable diagnosis. The emotional impact of having lung cancer is often as equally overwhelming as the physical demands, which is why Andrew Bessant used his patient grant to have a break away with his wife.

“It was really easy to apply for a patient grant for my dad,” daughter Charlotte explains.

We filled out the form online and received the grant soon after. Dad then used the money for a weekend away with my mum, Judith, in a lovely 4-star hotel in Bournemouth. It’s the first time he’s been away since his diagnosis, and he was so grateful for it.

They were to a lovely seafood restaurant next door to the hotel, as Dad can’t walk too far. They drove to the beach, had a nice coffee, and enjoyed the view. On the way home, they drove through the New Forest, stopped off to see the horses and have a cup of tea and a scone.

I think it did us all the world of good. As Dad’s carer, it was nice for me to have a little downtime too. His diagnosis took a big toll on my mental health too. It’s not something you ever want to go through, but it helps knowing there are charities like Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation out there to turn to when you need them.

The trip was definitely a happy moment in Dad’s lung cancer journey, and we have Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation to thank for giving it to us.”

Patient grants are available to people with lung cancer and experiencing financial difficulties. You can apply online by visiting roycastle.org/patient-grants.