5 July 2012
Desperate cancer patients who change weight or body shape because of cancer or cancer treatment are relying on charity handouts because they cannot afford the new clothes they need, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
New statistics show that nearly half (48 per cent) of cancer patients who received a Macmillan grant in the last 12 months needed it to help pay for clothing1. More patients were helped with clothing than with any other cost arising from having cancer, such as the cost of fuel bills or travelling to hospital.
Macmillan gave one-off payments totalling £2,105,612 to 14,938 cancer patients in the last 12 months to go towards clothing. This is a fifth of the total amount given in grants.
The need for new clothing arises following a change in weight or body shape due to the effects of cancer and/or its treatment, or following surgery. Weight loss is a common symptom of cancer, while certain chemotherapy drugs, steroids, and hormonal therapies can cause weight gain. Cancer patients may also need different clothes because they have an abdominal swelling, have to accommodate a colostomy bag or need special bras if they have had a mastectomy.
Jacqueline Gunn, 68, from Lancashire was diagnosed with cancer of the gullet in January 2010. She said:
“I lost seven stone in six months after my tumour was removed because I struggled to eat and drink. Money was so tight, I couldn’t afford a new wardrobe, so had to make do by pinning all my clothes back. I was so depressed, I couldn’t bear to leave the house.
“The Macmillan grant I was given for clothes was a godsend. Having clothes that fitted me properly, after my body had been through so much, really helped take the stress out of my treatment and gave me the confidence to face the world.”
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
“The sheer number of cancer patients turning to Macmillan for help towards clothing highlights just how much they struggle financially. Clothing is one of a number of hidden costs cancer patients are burdened with at a time when, on average, their income halves and their outgoings rocket. Patients already have to deal with the physical changes to their bodies – they shouldn’t have the added stress of not being able to afford new clothes. We urge any cancer patients who are struggling financially to contact our helpline to find what support is available to them.”
In addition to grants, Macmillan provides financial information and advice via its Support Line, team of local benefits advisers and range of publications.
Every week, over 600 people receive a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support. To continue providing this vital financial support Macmillan relies on public donations.
To donate, or to find out about the help financial support available to patients, please call freephone 0808 808 0000 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk
***SPOKESPEOPLE AND CASE STUDIES AVAILABLE***
For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Openshaw – Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 4699 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to editors:
1Grant information covers the period 9th June 2011 – 8th June 2012.
• Macmillan awarded over £9.6m to 31,381 patients between 9th June 2011 – 8th June 2012.
• The Macmillan grants programme gives payments to cancer patients who have limited financial resources and are in need of immediate assistance.
• Macmillan grants are used to meet urgent practical needs which would otherwise not be met This includes the cost of additional items or services that have become necessary as a result of a patient’s cancer experience such as clothing, bedding, heating bills and transport, practical items such as stair lifts, showers and washing machines or short breaks and holidays.
• Applications are made by patients through health or social care professionals who complete an application form on their behalf. Grants are means tested and applicants must fulfil certain financial criteria.
• According to research carried out for Macmillan, 70% of cancer patients suffer loss of income and/or increased costs as a direct result of their cancer diagnosis. (YouGov Plc. online survey of 1,495 adults who have had a cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork conducted between 1st and 16th August 2011. The figures have not been weighted)
• Amongst patient household who suffer a loss of income, the average drop is 50%.
(Macmillan Cancer Support/RDSi telephone survey of 1,137 people affected by cancer: 942 patients, 195 carers. Fieldwork conducted Nov 2005 – Feb 2006.)
• How much weight patients lose can depend on the type of cancer they have. About 6 out of 10 people (60%) with lung cancer and 8 out of 10 people (80%) with stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer or oesophageal cancer have lost a significant amount of weight by the time they are diagnosed. People with breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example, don't tend to have lost weight at diagnosis. Reference: http://cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org/coping-with-cancer/coping-physically/diet/about/types-of-diet-problems
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. But you don’t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way.
We are the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment. The experts on the end of the phone. The advisers telling you which benefits you’re entitled to. The volunteers giving you a hand with the everyday things. The campaigners improving cancer care. The fundraisers who make it all possible.
We are Macmillan Cancer Support.