Research by cancer charity Maggie’s has found that almost 30% of people with the disease in the UK are more concerned about the cost of living crisis than their diagnosis.

And Karen Verrill, director of the Maggie’s Center at Freeman’s Hospital in Newcastle, warned that the financial pressures on many cancer patients were “catastrophic”. The center – which offers a range of support for cancer patients and their loved ones, from counseling to financial counseling and even tai chi – has two specialist counselors who help those using the center with their finances.

Karen said the two advisers have never been busier. The charity hired a second adviser earlier this year.

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Karen added: “We knew we needed more resources – but it couldn’t have come at a better time. We hired another advisor earlier this year, but even since then things have gone downhill. further aggravated for people It’s bad for everyone but for people diagnosed with cancer they often can’t get to work.

“It’s not just the fact that they don’t have an income because they can’t go to work because of their cancer, it’s also how expensive things like fuel are now when it’s about getting to dates and that sort of thing. The costs are unbelievable now.”

Karen Verrill runs Maggie’s Center in Newcastle

This is catastrophic for some of our visitors. To be confronted with the fact that they have cancer and have to go through very harsh treatments, but also to be terrified of how you are going to manage financially.”

The charity commissioned a survey from OnePoll* of 500 people with cancer. The results showed that 29% were more concerned about finances than their cancer, while a shocking 77% felt their finances negatively affected their chances of success in treating the disease.

The poll found that 80% were worried about the cost of travel to hospital appointments, more than half (55%) believe they will struggle to afford food this winter and 67% think heating bills will be a problem.

Karen – who is also one of three specialist nurses supporting those using the centre, built in 2013 on the hospital grounds, added: “It just makes things much worse than they seem to be. “would have been otherwise. Someone’s first thought may be ‘am I going to die’, but quite quickly comes next ‘how am I going to pay my bills.’ “

She said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continued – and was exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. Newcastle’s Maggie’s Center is set to expand soon, with plans to start work on an extension at the end of this year.

The atrium of the magnificent Maggie's Center in Newcastle
The atrium of the magnificent Maggie’s Center in Newcastle

The support it offers people is free and those at the center work hard to ensure it is a non-clinical environment. The staff don’t wear uniforms and there aren’t even tags on the doors. Someone can come by for a cup of tea or access one of the many support groups.

There is also a landscaped garden complex and a small library designed to create a relaxing atmosphere. Those using the center may be cancer patients, their family or friends, and do not have to be patients of a Newcastle hospital. Many come from further afield to use the facilities.

Dame Laura Lee – Chief Executive of Maggie’s Nationally – added: “‘It is truly shocking that people living with cancer – which is perhaps the most difficult and frightening experience of their lives – are now so worried about money that they overshadow the fact that they are living with cancer.

“Many even believe that the current crisis will have an impact on their chances of successful treatment. It is clear that the situation will only get worse as the cost of fuel, food and heating continues to rise in the fall. We know that people with cancer are hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.

They need more heating, live on reduced incomes and pay for treatment. We also know that people return to work too soon and even miss appointments because they cannot survive on benefits. This too can have devastating consequences. It is simply wrong. People with cancer need to be able to focus on their treatment. »


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