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Cancer patients in Gloucestershire struggling financially offered more than £56,000 in grants from Macmillan

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 23, 2014

Blunt sisters

Emily and Kath Blunt

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CANCER patients in Gloucestershire who are struggling financially have been offered more than £56,000 in grants to help pay for everyday living costs.

Last year, 178 cash-strapped sufferers across the county had to take handouts from Macmillan Cancer Support to pay for treatment-related costs.

The figure amounts to an average £318 per head, and highlights the financial hardship faced by sufferers. The financial effects can often be forgotten after a diagnosis that can devastate lives.

In Gloucestershire, 92 people asked for help with fuel, with 80 people needing money for clothes and 57 grant applications made for hospital travel fares.

Grants worth just over £7,500 were awarded for carers and patients to pay for short breaks.

Dr Fran Woodard, Macmillan Cancer Support director for England, 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.

"Our latest grant figures are evidence of the financial isolation that can seriously impact people living with cancer.

"Macmillan believes no one should face cancer alone and we urge any cancer patients who are struggling financially to contact our helpline to find what support is available to them."

Many people living with cancer have high fuel bills because they spend long periods of time at home during treatment or recovery.

They also feel the cold more because of their condition.

Minimising the risk of infection is important while undergoing cancer treatment. The knock-on effect is further costs for washing clothes, towels and sheets, and for bathing and general hygiene.

The Macmillan grants programme gives payments to cancer patients with limited financial resources in need of urgent help. Grants are used to meet practical needs which would otherwise not be met, including stair lifts, showers and washing machines or short breaks and holidays.

Applications are made by patients through health or social care professionals who complete an application form on their behalf.

Grants are targeted to those most in need.

SEVERAL charities offer financial support and advice to cancer patients and their families.

The help is seen as a vital lifeline for many.

Kath Blunt, 25, from Longlevens, lost her twin sister Emily to bone cancer in 2008.

Without help and advice from Clic Sargent and social workers, the family would have been at a loss to pay for transport costs for specialist treatment in Birmingham.

Kath said: “When Emily was ill, the financial side of things was the last thing we were concerned with, but it was an issue.

“We had lots of help and advice.

“She needed regular treatment in the young person’s unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“Going back and forth was expensive for my mum, who was Emily’s full-time carer.

“A social worker at the hospital was amazing and showed us how we could get help with the travel costs.

“It wasn’t easy to do, with a 100-page form to fill out to apply for disability allowance. Mum could get help to pay for a car to travel back and forth to Birmingham.”

Zoe Goodman, 28, from Tewkesbury, whose partner was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012, had help from Macmillan.

She said: “The treatment plan we were offered couldn’t be done locally.

“The nearest place that did it was 50 miles away from our home.

“I was just starting my third year of nursing training so money was already tight, but it then got even harder as my partner’s pay had been reduced to sick pay.

“We received a grant from Macmillan which brought a feeling of relief to us knowing we could put it to that month’s bills.”

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