29th April 2022

Lung cancer patients under unbearable pressure with cost of living crisis

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Mum of two, Joanna Jonathon is living with incurable lung cancer. At the start of the pandemic, her husband, Daniel, was made redundant when his company said they were unable to accommodate him shielding with his family. During that time, Jo’s cancer progressed. Daniel was then unable to return to work as he needed to help care for Jo. Her treatment was also moved further afield to the specialist cancer centre, The Christie, meaning they have extra expenses to cover the travel costs.

Speaking to Channel 4 News last night [Thursday 28th April], Joanna is now terrified that she will soon be forced to choose between heating her home or eating.

Footage courtesy of Channel 4 News

“When Daniel first left work, we had some savings but we’ve burnt through them trying to live.

We were able to secure a grant through Roy Castle which we’re eternally grateful for. It really did help but with costs rising even more, the burden is getting heavier by the day. Everything is going up – our energy bills have tripled, we have additional fuel costs because my treatment is a 40-mile round trip, even our weekly shopping seems to have doubled. I’m terrified it won’t be long until I’m forced to choose whether to heat my home or eat.

We don’t even have money saved for funeral expenses. I know the clock is ticking. If I have two more years, I’ll be very lucky. The fear I feel knowing my family will have to deal with that when I die is horrendous.

Daniel has been looking at going back to work and I’m so scared my health will deteriorate and that I might fall ill while I am alone with my two babies. My eldest is only three and won’t know what to do if anything happens but we don’t have any other option right now. I just don’t know how we’re going to cope.”

UK inflation has risen to 7%, its highest rate for 30 years. As a result, fuel, energy and food prices have all increased significantly. Fuel prices have risen by 12.6p per litre, while the average cost to energy bills is £693. We are seeing higher interest rates which means some homeowners are facing more expensive mortgage payments, while experts predict food bills could rise by up to 15% this year.

Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation:

“The cost of living crisis is already having a devastating impact on patients. People with lung cancer often lose weight as a result of their illness and are therefore much more vulnerable to the cold so before the hikes even happened, we saw a 20% increase in patients seeking financial support to help with energy bills alone. We are also expecting more people applying for grants to cover travel costs so they can get to hospital for treatment.

More than half of those with lung cancer are living with a terminal diagnosis so there is an immediate impact if the family has been dependent on someone’s income or pension to meet the household costs, and also on planning for the future. There is an inability to get life insurance, or cover the legal costs of making their will and even their own funeral costs.

A lung cancer diagnosis already creates physical, emotional and financial turmoil. The current situation is making the hardest of times even more desperate. Our patient grants scheme can offer some financial relief but with over 48,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK every year, many will endure significant financial hardship in the last few months of their life unless immediate help is given.”

The charity has now launched an emergency appeal to help provide financial support to help those with lung cancer relieve some of the burden caused by the cost of living crisis.

For more information about the patient grants scheme, or to apply for financial support, please click here.