More than 100,000 people with cancer in the UK are struggling to pay for basic essentials such as food and bills as a result of the pandemic, according to a leading cancer charity.
The figures from Macmillan Cancer Support also show more than two in three people with cancer who are struggling with basic living costs have experienced stress, anxiety or depression as a result.
Former psychotherapist Judith Neptial, 49, is currently living with stage four bile duct cancer and left her job when she became too ill to continue.
She soon found the pressures of living costs mounted, describing the financial burden as “enormous”.
“The extra money I received in benefits allowed me to have the luxury of not having to take public transport to appointments during COVID, which would have been a threat to my life,” she told Sky News.
“I can’t begin to explain what that feels like, saying it was a luxury to travel in this way.”
Macmillan has said that some people living with a cancer diagnosis were already struggling with additional household costs even before the pandemic.
It is now urging the government to provide clarity on Universal Credit commitments ahead of the budget announcement on 3 March.
At the start of the pandemic, the government increased the payments by £20 a week for those on the lowest incomes – with the measure in place until April.
Steven McIntosh, director of advocacy and communications at Macmillan, said: “The pandemic has shone a light on just how difficult it is to manage costs…
“Currently those measures are due to run out and people living with cancer are incredibly anxious that their financial lifeline is going to be cut back.”
A spokesperson for mental health charity Mind added that “nobody should have to worry about not being able to afford the basic essentials, especially during this devastating pandemic”.
For Judith, her strength has come from her daughter, family and friends who have been a constant support.
“Cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence. You can live with cancer. With the support that’s given to you, I wouldn’t say you can live the same life as you’ve lived before… but you can have a good quality of life,” she said.