‘My standard of living was fine before’: Britons face a ‘cancer price tag’ of £900 a month

Martin Lewis gives financial advice on dealing with debt

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50-year-old Judith Neptial from Romford in London, was diagnosed with terminal bile duct cancer three years ago and was forced to give up her job as a psychotherapist. Not only that but it’s also left her in debt, with shocking new research showing that many more cancer patients are struggling too.

Three years ago Judith’s life changed for the worse when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Soon after, she started chemotherapy which meant she became too sick to work.

Before long she was behind with her bills and mortgage payments, but now she wants to help others avoid falling into the same trap.

Judith said: “My standard of living was fine before cancer, but now I’m in debt with the utilities, and my mortgage went into arrears which then affected my credit rating.”

Unfortunately, Judith’s story is all too common.

At times of distress, the last thing cancer patients need to worry about is how to pay the bills.

Yet research by Macmillan Cancer Support reveals that almost 2.5 million people across the UK are hit by a ”cancer price tag” of approximately £900 a month.

Its figures also found that for those living with the long-term effects of cancer, the overall financial burden of their diagnosis is more than a year’s average full-time salary in the UK.

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To top it off, the pandemic hasn’t helped matters, with Macmillan Cancer Support volunteers talking to tens of thousands of people with cancer in the UK who are struggling now more than ever.

Carrie Whitham, head of operations for money and work support at Macmillan Cancer Support, said benefit cuts and rising living costs are compounding the problem.

She said: “Even before COVID-19 we were receiving more and more calls to our support line from people living with cancer, worried about the financial impact of their diagnosis.

“The pandemic has supercharged these concerns.”

Ms Whitham said that not one day goes by without the charity speaking to someone who has felt the financial impact of the universal credit cut.

Rising energy bills and the end of furlough are only adding to people’s problems.

More than four in five people with cancer in the UK (83 percent) experience some kind of financial impact from their diagnosis, and for those affected, this works out at an average of £891 a month.

She said financial struggles are the last thing cancer patients should have to worry about.

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The charity wants people to know that it has a specific financial helpline, where advisers can help with a whole host of money matters including debt queries.

“People with cancer need to live, not just survive and Macmillan’s specially trained teams are on hand, every day, pushing to make sure people get the support they need and deserve,” she said.

Meanwhile, Judith hopes that talking to Express.co.uk will help highlight the issue so that things can improve for cancer patients.

She has also set up a social media platform called From Me to You to help people of colour in London share their cancer experiences and support each other.

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