Families facing the hidden cost of cancer
PUBLISHED: 11:11 15 November 2016
One mother's tale: traumatised families must also cope with financial burden when a child is diagnosed
Jane Wingrove from Flackwell Heath in Bucks, whose daughter Daisy was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma aged eight, is backing a campaign by charity CLIC Sargent that aims to highlight and ease the hidden financial burden of cancer.
CLIC Sargent research reveals that, on average, parents spend an extra £600 a month on living expenses when their child is in treatment. The Wingroves, who received financial support from CLIC Sargent after struggling with extra costs, are encouraging people to join the charity’s Cancer Costs campaign and sign its petition to Prime Minister Theresa May, urging her to take action now to help ease these financial problems.
Daisy was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a primary bone cancer, in 2014. She endured operations to remove the cancerous bone and reconstructive work on her legs, as well as intensive chemotherapy. Post-operative infections have been challenging, wounds did not heal properly and Daisy had to use a wheelchair to get around. In January a metal plate poked through her skin, so the metalwork in her legs was removed for good. She is now 10-years-old, in remission and in rehab.
Jane says: “Having a child in hospital with cancer diagnosis is incredibly stressful, add to that the burden of the extra expense and it can be a very worrying time for everyone. Lots of people rely on relatives or benefits, and some a combination of both. Very few find their work is accommodating or helpful, never mind manage to continue to work.
“Travel costs is a big one and parking was sometimes up to £10 a day when we were in London for treatment. Add in an 80-mile round trip to the hospital every week, sometimes more, and you are looking at quite a cost. Food is another expense. Chemo does funny things to an appetite! Sometimes Daisy would eat packets and packets of Parma ham, some days endless trips to McDonalds, other times 10 packets of Quavers in one sitting. It’s hard to keep up… you stock up on all these things only to find the next day it’s something different!”
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families, providing emotional, clinical, practical and financial support during and after treatment. Daisy’s primary treatment centre was the John Radcliffe Hospital, which is where they met the CLIC Sargent team.
Jane recalls: “Rebekah, our CLIC Sargent Social Worker, was amazing. She sorted out my benefits for me, which really helped with all the additional costs, it was odd to get them, but they were truly a life saver.”