Dad-of-five warns of financial impact of cancer diagnosis

By Lizzie May

A father-of-five has warned of the devastating financial impact of his cancer diagnosis.

Doug Harper, 58, from Plumstead, was found to have stage two breast cancer in January 2012 after being made redundant, so struggled to make ends meet.

Mr Harper found it hard to get by after the costs of travelling to hospital treatment sessions, while putting food on the table became increasingly difficult.

The dad said: “Financially I was struggling before the diagnosis, but the extra burden was almost impossible.

“I became too ill to drive to my radiotherapy appointments, but my finances just wouldn’t stretch to expensive taxi fares.”

Cancer charity Macmillan provided Mr Harper with a grant to help with the surrounding costs of cancer, such as the loss of income for those unable to work due to their treatments.

Mr Harper is now cancer-free and in remission, and cares for his 10-year-old son with his wife, however he still suffers side effects from taking drug Tamoxifen from 2012 until 2017, which prevents breast cancer from returning.

Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, Lynda Thomas, said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that receiving the life-changing news that you have cancer.

“We hear from people living with cancer every day who are desperately worried about their finances – from putting food on the table, to holding off on switching the heating on when they need it and sitting at home chilled to their bones.

“For some people, cancer is nothing short of a financial wrecking-ball.”

Data from Macmillan Cancer Support reveals that almost one in three of those with cancer have had to take a loan out or go into credit card debt, and 16 per cent of those currently in work would not be in a position to make ends meet within a month of not being able to work.

After announcing that the charity has partnered with Virgin Money’s 2021 London Marathon as well as Virgin’s Charity of the Year, Macmillan is launching a new campaign, Everyone From Day One, to help be there for everyone facing cancer, from treatment to finances and everything in between.

Fergus Murphy, group personal director at Virgin Money, said: “A cancer diagnosis can have a devastating impact on every aspect of someone’s life, including their finances.

“These latest figures are a stark reminder of how important it is to get the right kind of financial support as quickly as possible so that money doesn’t become one more thing to worry about.”

Virgin Money is working closely with Macmillan with dedicated teams from both, to ensure anyone who needs specialist support is put directly through to the Macmillan team there and then.

Pictured top: Doug Harper

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