Penny Brohn UK

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The hidden cost of cancer

Being diagnosed with cancer is devastating. But as well as the physical and emotional impact there is often a huge financial impact leaving some people struggling to pay the bills and finding themselves below the breadline. A new documentary follows four people living with cancer to show the financial impact of the disease.

The documentary, Breadline Britain, aired on Channel 4 News on 2 January and is part of a series shining a light on poverty in the UK.

The documentary features four people who are living with cancer and facing financial hardship as a result of their diagnosis. Paul and Charlene are both supported by Penny Brohn UK. The charity had an unprecedented response from clients keen to share their experience of poverty following a cancer diagnosis; showing the pressing need for financial advice and support for people affected by cancer.

Paul was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer and faced compulsory redundancy six months later. During the film Paul described the amount of time he spent working out his family’s finances and working out how he can pay the bills. He said that he can spend more time liaising with different organisations about his finances than the time he spends attending treatment. Charlene is a mum of three and was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Her partner died from cancer and she is now a single mum. During the film Charlene explained that she has to continue earning to keep a roof over her head and the alternative would be being homeless with cancer and three children.

Many people are unaware of the hidden costs of cancer until they or someone close to them is diagnosed. Cancer affects more than just a person’s body; there are many aspects of the impact of cancer on everyday life – emotional and financial. A cancer diagnosis and treatment can affect a person’s ability to work due to symptoms and reduced energy levels; time needed to attend appointments and receive treatment and the possibility of needing additional support at home. A cancer diagnosis can also lead to extra expenses including travelling to and from hospital; hospital parking; and increased energy bills if more sensitive to the cold or staying at home more.

Paul explained: “My biggest challenge is my two diseases. The first disease is my cancer and the second is worrying about money… The buck stops at me paying the mortgage for my family.”

Tracy Tait, Brand and Marketing Director, said: “Until we or someone close to us is diagnosed with cancer we can be unaware of the hidden costs of cancer. Financial worries can have a huge impact on a person’s mental health and emotional wellbeing which has an influence on physical health and a person’s recovery. At Penny Brohn UK we recognise that people affected need more than medicine and see each person as a unique individual. By taking an integrated whole person approach to cancer support we are here to support people to live as well as possible for as long as possible and can help signpost to organisations and resources that can help people regain as normal a life as possible after a diagnosis of cancer.”

To view the documentary visit Channel 4 News.

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