Thousands of cancer patients in the UK are being forced to borrow money from the “bank of mum of dad” because of the high cost of living with cancer, according to a new report from Macmillan Cancer Support.
In its new report ‘No Small Change‘ out today (Monday), Macmillan say more than 30,000 middle-aged people with cancer between the age of 40 and 50, or 8% of all those living with the condition, have been forced to borrow from their elderly parents.
And more than 2,000 have had to move in with their parents or parents-in-law after being forced to sell their home, as the charity warns cancer can cost an average £570 a month in lost income – largely due to people being too unwell to work.
Macmillan estimates that more than one in four people with cancer, equivalent to more than 70,000 or 28% of all age groups, are vulnerable to financial pressures caused by cancer because they have no savings to fall back on in a time of crisis.
Money worries during cancer can affect a person’s physical and mental health, “rob them of their independence and leave them feeling “ashamed and distressed”, say Macmillan.
Macmillan is calling on the UK Government to ensure people with cancer can access the benefits they desperately need. And health and social care professional need to be trained and kept more informed about the financial complications of cancer, so they can signpost people in financial distress to relevant support and advice services.
Terry White, from Nottinghamshire, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 56, and was forced to claim benefits to help keep a roof over his head.
He told Macmillan: “Life before cancer had been comfortable. I’d worked hard and saved hard but six months into an eight-month chemo regime our savings had dwindled to nothing and our finances had spiralled out of control.
“I had to claim benefits for the first time in my life, with the threat of our home being repossessed hanging over us. It got so bad that I had to borrow £2,000 from my 78-year old parents. It was deeply embarrassing that at this time in my life I was going cap in hand to ask for their support.’
The charity is also urging the banking and insurance sector to identify and provide better support to people affected by cancer. For example, banks should ensure staff are able to identify and help those struggling with the cost of cancer, say Macmillan.
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support said: “It is heart-breaking that people in their 40s and 50s with cancer might have to go cap in hand to their parents to ask for money simply to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table.
“The cost of cancer is leaving people embarrassed, ashamed and dependent.
“Borrowing money could cause tension amongst families at a time when people need support more than ever.
“While Macmillan is here for anyone facing money worries, we also need the Government, healthcare professionals and the banking and insurance sector to play their part to ease this burden.”
If you or someone you know are affected by the issues raised in this article and need support you can call Macmillan Cancer Support free on 0808 808 00 00, or visit their website.