Money is a topic that in any family can cause major stress, so thinking about money following a diagnosis of cancer in a child or young adult is almost unimaginable.
Each year in the UK approximately 3,600 children and young people undergo cancer treatment, sometimes having to travel miles from home for months at a time, even several years. Research through organisations such as CLIC Sargent and Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed that on average a family will increase their spending by £600 per month following a childhood cancer diagnosis.
An astonishing three in five parents will build up debt because of their child’s diagnosis, and one in six will borrow over £5,000. The biggest monthly expenses for families include travel, spending approx. £131 extra per month, £129 on food (both in hospital and at home) and £88 on other ‘treats’ aimed at helping a child or young person cope during treatment. Hospital parking, energy bills and car-related costs also cause a great deal of worry. In this current economic climate this is sadly not likely to improve and the biggest impact is expected to be seen in those on low incomes or the self-employed, up to twice that of those on the highest incomes.
The financial loss does not end there, longer term families in financial difficulty and rising debt will often suffer with anxiety, depression leading to wider mental health issues.
The Joe Glover Trust was founded to help alleviate some of the financial pressures of everyday life. In the last few years nearly 85% of the grants we awarded through our Financial Grants Scheme were for help with household bills and travel expenses.
“My family and I cannot thank you enough for the extremely generous grant of £500 you gave us towards art materials for GCSE projects and petrol costs. As I have no doubt you know, support like this makes a huge difference. I stopped working when they found my child’s tumour.”
Larger charities continue to brilliantly lobby governments across the UK to review travel assistance and support for energy bills available to young cancer patients and their families. Only recently the House of Commons was forced to debate the hot topic of free or reduced hospital car parking in England, in line with other UK nations. Continued pressure is being applied to energy companies and financial institutions to ensure their vulnerable customer policies include young cancer patients and their parents.
We know without doubt that these changes will help alleviate the financial impact of childhood cancer on the thousands of families going through it every year. The system needs to change to make sure families do not end up with serious long term financial problems because of cancer.
Please do contact The Joe Glover Trust if your family is suffering financially through childhood cancer.