Cancer patients given £66k of grants to cover hidden costs of illness

Ruth Bennett said the Macmillan grant made a huge difference to her at a time she needed it

Ruth Bennett said the Macmillan grant made a huge difference to her at a time she needed it - Credit: Ruth Bennett

Cancer patients have spoken of the hidden costs of the disease after charity Macmillan handed out £66,000 in grants in Suffolk to help stop sufferers being left out of pocket.

The grants - which totalled £66,569 and £150,380 in Essex in 2020 - have helped to cover costs such as hospital parking, travel for treatment and specialist equipment.

One of those to benefit was Barham resident Ruth Bennett, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2019.

She began a long journey of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and acid infusions at West Suffolk Hospital shortly afterwards.

The 55-year-old didn't qualify for much help, as she still held down a full-time job at the Shaw Trust Charity.


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However, she did qualify for the Macmillan hardship grant and got a much-needed injection of cash during her treatment.

Some of the costs Ruth faced during her treatment were wigs, picc line covers and fuel to get to hospital

Some of the costs Ruth faced during her treatment were wigs, picc line covers and fuel to get to hospital - Credit: Ruth Bennett

"First, you get hit with the impact of your diagnosis, then you get the impact of thinking: 'Oh my goodness, what's going to happen to me?' Then there's the surgeries and then chemotherapy," Ruth said. 

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"Then you start to realise the cost of everything.

"I was travelling to the hospital so much for blood tests and treatment, so there's the fuel, then the parking charges at the hospital.

"When you're suddenly spending a lot of time at hospital, and then faced with costs like buying wigs and picc line covers, it all adds up."

Cathy Cunningham-Elliott, manager of the Macmillan Benefits Advice Service for the region, said: “A Macmillan grant can help pay for the little things that make a big difference to the lives of people with cancer – paying for replacement washing machines, covering the heating bill, buying a blender for someone whose treatment makes it hard to eat normally – and in this way have become a vital safety net for people receiving a diagnosis, especially during the pandemic.

Cathy Cunningham-Elliott is manager of the Macmillan Benefits Advice Service for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire

Cathy Cunningham-Elliott is manager of the Macmillan Benefits Advice Service for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire - Credit: Macmillan

“The sad truth is that more than a third of people with cancer (39%) are severely financially impacted by their diagnosis, with many now having to deal with the double blow of being diagnosed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It’s a devastating reality to contend with and many are simply unaware of the support that exists."

To find out more about Macmillan grants and the other financial support you might be eligible for, call the team on 0345 600 6257 Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Alternatively, email macmillanbenefits@suffolk.gov.uk 

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