Community and CSR

Cancer diagnosis could be a ‘financial wrecking-ball’ to millions says charity, with more than a third of cancer patients ‘severely financially impacted’ by cancer

Shocking new data from Macmillan Cancer Support reveals the precarious financial position millions are in and the detrimental impact a cancer diagnosis could have on people’s lives:

  • New research by the charity reveals that more than a third of people with cancer (39%) are severely financially impacted by their diagnosis and of those almost one in three (31%) have had to take a loan or go into credit card debt
  • Research also shows one in five people (19%) in the UK have only £250 or less in savings

Macmillan Cancer Support likens cancer to a ‘financial wrecking ball’, as cancer diagnoses can result in reduced income, rising household bills and mounting transport costs to hospital appointments. As the charity reveals that more than a third of people with cancer (39%) are severely financially impacted by their diagnosis, new Macmillan data also shows that one in five UK adults (19%) – almost 10 million people – only have £250 or less in savings, as of September – and one in eight (13%) don’t have any savings at all . Furthermore, one in five of those currently in work in the UK (22%) say they would be unable to make ends meet within a month of being unable to work.

While people in older age groups – who are most at risk of cancer – tend to have more savings, the new data shows that one in nine (11%) of those 55 or over have no more than £250 to fall back on . In addition, Macmillan’s new research shows half of people with cancer are in work when they are diagnosed, and of these two in five (40%) have either lost their job or left work since being diagnosed.

At a time when cancer is at risk of becoming the forgotten ‘C’ amidst the coronavirus pandemic and the charity is facing a significant drop in fundraised income, Macmillan is launching a new campaign, ‘Everyone From Day One’, as it is announced as the new charity partner for the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon and Charity of the Year for Virgin Money.

Sophia, aged 51, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. She was forced to set up a Go Fund Me page, when she realised she wouldn’t be able to get through the following months financially. She said:

“There are hidden costs that many people won’t foresee when diagnosed with cancer; for example, costs to get to appointments can mount up quickly, or being cold from treatment and spending more time at home might mean your bills can snowball.

“I’d tell anybody diagnosed with cancer to get advice about the costs involved to help you prepare as much as possible, because you don’t know what’s around the corner.

“When you’re given the diagnosis, you don’t necessarily know timeframes and when I found out I needed more treatment than expected and would need to take more time off work, I soon used up all my holiday and sick leave allowance. A reduced income and getting a cancer diagnosis are things that feel impossible to prepare for; you don’t think about it until it hits you and all the financial buffers have gone.”

Macmillan hopes this partnership will help it reach its goal of being there for everyone facing cancer from the time they are first diagnosed, to help with every aspect of their life from treatment, through to finances, and everything in between.

Calls to the financial guidance team on Macmillan’s Support Line have increased steadily in recent months, with calls answered by the service now 32% higher than during the first month of lockdown. The money raised by runners for Macmillan at the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon and through Virgin Money’s fundraising activities will help the charity expand its telephone support line to offer round the clock help when people need it the most and support the professional development of Macmillan’s crucial healthcare professionals.

Fergus Murphy, Group Personal Director at Virgin Money said: “We’re honoured to have Macmillan Cancer Support as our charity of the year. 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.

“We’re working closely with Macmillan and will have a dedicated team of specially trained colleagues working with Macmillan’s financial guidance team to ensure anyone who needs specialist support is put directly through to the Macmillan team there and then.

“We are right behind Macmillan’s new campaign and hope our partnership will help them continue to deliver much needed support.”

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “At Macmillan, we hear from people living with cancer every day who are desperately worried about their finances – from worrying about paying their mortgage or 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. It’s no exaggeration to say that receiving the life-changing news that you have cancer, for some people, is nothing short of a financial wrecking-ball.

“We are reliant on people’s generous donations to continue to support people living with cancer and they need us now more than ever. Please help us as we kickstart this fantastic partnership with Virgin Money and London Marathon so we can be there for even more people with cancer right from day one.”

Next year’s Virgin Money London Marathon will be held 3rd October 2021 and the ballot is now open until 5pm Friday 9th October. Runners can head to the Macmillan website londonmarathon.macmillan.org.uk* to find out more about joining #TeamMacmillan and the Everyone From Day One campaign.

Anyone worried about their finances can speak to the Financial Guidance team on Macmillan’s Support Line (0808 808 00 00). The Financial Guidance service is available Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm.