14 December 2017
- 38,000 PARENTS WITH CANCER COULDN’T AFFORD PRESENTS FOR CHILDREN[i]
- 20,500 MUMS AND DADS WENT WITHOUT DECORATIONS OR A TREE, AND 16,000 WITHOUT CHRISTMAS DINNER BECAUSE OF CANCER[ii]
- 29,944 PARENTS WITH CANCER FELT LIKE A BAD MOTHER OR FATHER AS THEIR SONS AND DAUGHTERS GO WITHOUT[iii]
Almost 1 in 5 (19%) parents– approximately 357,000 people – have struggled at Christmas in the last five years because they have cancer, new research from Macmillan Cancer Support shows[iv]. Many will be too unwell to enjoy time with their family, while others will be struggling with the emotional impact of the disease and unable to cope, or needing to conserve their energy to travel to hospital for vital treatment. The charity predicts that factors such as a stretched NHS, inflation and welfare reform, could mean the number of mums and dads with cancer who struggle this Christmas will be even greater.
With the average cost of cancer for 4 out of 5 people £570 a month[v], many of the 1,880,000 parents with cancer will also be unable to afford to give their families a traditional Christmas - with 37,600 mums and dads struggling just to pay for presents for their children during the last five years.
Parents have described this as ‘devastating’ – especially when they are already going through an incredibly tough time – and almost 3 in 5 (58%) of the parents surveyed who were unable to afford presents said these money worries have made them feel depressed. More than half (55%) said they felt guilty or ashamed, and a third (33%) admitted struggling to fund gifts made them feel like a bad mum or dad.
Macmillan know that retaining a sense of normality and enjoying time with loved ones is an important part of coping with cancer. This research underlines the heartache and challenges faced by people with cancer at Christmas – a time often associated with happiness and fun.
Yet, parents with cancer also have to cut back in other ways, with 1 in 5 (21%) of those who have Christmas money worries unable to afford decorations or a traditional tree, and around 1 in 5 (17%) going without Christmas dinner. In fact, approximately 25,380 people have resorted to an alternative such as a ready meal instead of a traditional dinner, because of the impact of their cancer diagnosis or treatment[vi].
Faced with these hardships, mums and dads with children aged up to 19 are one and a half times more likely to feel they have to hide their worries and “put on a brave face” than people with cancer who don’t have children depending on them. [vii]
Mum of two, Charlotte-Louise Crewe, 30, from Norfolk, who also has two step-children, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2015.
She said: “I had my single mastectomy booked in for the week before Christmas and stayed with my parents for a few days to aid my recovery, as my kids are a bundle of energy.
“That meant I couldn’t take my kids to see Santa or go to any festive events. I was really upset that I missed out on the Christmas festivities – it’s my favourite time of year.
“Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to do anything Christmassy with my kids was more devastating than losing my breast.”
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “It is heart-breaking that parents who have cancer can’t enjoy Christmas with their children because of their diagnosis. Most of us take festive celebrations for granted, yet some who have cancer and really need the respite, won’t be able to afford it. I want those struggling to know that Macmillan is here for people living with cancer and their families during the festive season and all year round.”
Christmas with cancer can still be Christmas. For information and support visit www.macmillan.org.uk/christmaswithcancer
For more information please contact:
Ed Grunill - Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support, 020 7091 2326 (out of hours 07801 307068) / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ends -
Notes to Editors:
About Macmillan Cancer Support
There are 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK. One in two people are likely to get cancer in their lifetimes. Cancer can affect everything, including a person’s body, relationships and finances.
Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, emotional and personal support to people affected by cancer every year. The charity is there to support people during treatment, help with work and money worries, and listen when people need to talk about their feelings.
Macmillan receives no government funding and relies on generous donations from the public. People up and down the country show their support for Macmillan – from hosting or attending a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning to running a marathon or giving up alcohol – so the charity can help more and more people affected by cancer every year.
Life with cancer is still your life and Macmillan is there to help you live it.
Macmillan Cancer Support is working with Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Nationwide Building Society to help people living with cancer cope with the financial impact of a diagnosis. The charity is also working with npower to help people living with cancer keep warm without worrying about their energy costs.
[i] Estimation of number of parents with cancer based on YouGov fieldwork undertaken between 26th April and 3rd May 2017. Total sample size was 2,014 people who have been diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the living with cancer population (aged 18+).
77% of female respondents said that they had children (of any age) This percentage was applied to the estimated number of living women who have had a cancer diagnosis in the UK (1.4 million) to create an overall estimate of 1.1 million mums.
Estimate of the number of women living with cancer is based on: Maddams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040. Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202. (Projections scenario 1). Macmillan analysis based on extrapolation of 2010 and 2020 projections that the number of people living with cancer will hit an estimated 2.5 million in 2015.
Combined with estimate of the number of dads living with cancer with children of any age is based on taking the percentage of men with cancer who said they were parents (77%) and applying this to the estimated number of men living with cancer in the UK (1 million) to create an overall estimate of 780,000.
This gives us approximately 1,880,000 parents living with cancer in the UK.
Please note that it’s possible that people became parents after their cancer diagnosis, although given the older age profile of the cancer population we would not expect this to be the case for most respondents.
New research, unless otherwise stated, taken from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,067 people with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd June and 6th July 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the living with cancer population.
Respondents were asked: “Which, if any, of the following have you had to go without over Christmas because you couldn't afford them, for reasons related to your cancer diagnosis?” Please tick all that apply.” To which 2.03% of parents with children of any age said, “presents for my children”. 2.03% of 1,880,000 (number of parents with cancer) is 38,164. From this we can say approximately 38,000 parents with cancer couldn’t afford presents for their children.
[iv] Respondents were asked: “Which, if any, of the following have affected your Christmas celebrations during the past five years, for reasons related to your cancer diagnosis or treatment? Please tick all that apply.” To which 19% of people with children of any age selected any of the listed negative impacts. Based on number of parents with cancer we can say approximately 357,000 people’s cancer diagnosis had a negative impact on their Christmas.
The options respondents could select from are:
- Having more appreciation of what really matters to me and my family
- Being too ill or tired to do usual Christmas activities (e.g. cook Christmas dinner, see family or friends)
- Not feeling like celebrating
- Being able to spend more quality time with family or friends
- Not being able to afford to spend as much money at Christmas as usual
- Having to spend time in hospital having tests or treatment, or in recovery
- Having cancer has affected Christmas in some other way
- Having cancer has not affected my Christmas celebrations during the past five years
- Not applicable – I don't celebrate Christmas
- Not applicable – I was diagnosed after last Christmas (December 2016)
- Not applicable – I have not had any effects from cancer or treatment during the last five years
- Prefer not to say
[v] Macmillan Cancer Support/University of Bristol and TNS BMRB postal survey of 1,610 UK adults living with cancer, recruited from a database of callers to the Macmillan Support Line and visitors to many Macmillan Information and Support Centres across the UK. The majority (95%) had received treatment within the last six months. Fieldwork conducted August - October 2012. Survey data has been weighted to be representative of all people living with a cancer diagnosis in the UK according to age, gender, cancer type and country of residence. The research was commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support, carried out by researchers from the University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre in partnership with TNS BMRB, and part-funded by our partner The RBS Group.
[vi] Of the respondents with “children of any age” who stated cancer had a negative impact on their Christmas, 7% said “Had an alternative Christmas dinner, e.g. microwave/ready meal”. Rebalanced to all parents living with cancer this is 1.35%. If 1,880,000 million parents in the UK have cancer, 1.35% of 1,880,000 is 19176.
[vii] Respondents who said cancer had a negative impact on their Christmas were asked: “You said that your cancer has had a negative impact on Christmas for you. Which, if any, of the following did you do as a result of this? Please tick all that apply.” To which 22% of parents with children under the age of 19 said “put on a brave face”, compared to 14% of people without children.