I got paid for six months on full pay, then that went down to half pay, and the fact that my pay went down coincided with the very, very cold winter that we had in 2010. My heating bills went up because of course I was at home more, having to recover and relax after my chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
My gas bill was horrendously high, and at one point in December 2010, as I was nearing the end of my chemotherapy, my heating broke down, and I remember I spoke to someone at Macmillan and I was at this point where I was thinking I can’t take any more.
It was a burden that I could have done without, because your focus is to concentrate on your recovery. And then you have to come home and deal with the heating that’s broken down or you have to pay the telephone bill, or you have to find some money to pay for petrol.
Towards the end of 2010 my pay stopped altogether, and navigating my way around the welfare benefits system, having to fill in a 50-page booklet, when I’d just come back from my radiotherapy session and I was feeling rotten.
Macmillan were brilliant – I could pick up the phone, and I could say to them what do I do, how do I fill this in, where do I go with this because I need money?
I needed help to make sense of some of the welfare benefits that I could have been entitled to and to understand where I could get some help.
I think the thing that I found the most helpful about the Macmillan welfare benefits advice was the kind of practical help that I got in terms of filling in the application forms, as well as the literature that was sent to me almost straight away.