The Irish Cancer Society has said that cancer patients are spending an average extra cost of €756 per month, rising to over €1,000 in some cases. These costs relate to medical expenses that can’t be claimed back, costs associated with appointments, increased day to day living expenses and many other expenses that they did not have before they were diagnosed with cancer. The Society released their second Real Cost of Cancer Report which found that cancer patients are also losing an average of €18,000 a year in income, or over €1,500 per month, as a result of their cancer diagnosis, making it even more difficult to pay for increased costs. CEO of the Irish Cancer Society Averil Power today said, “Cancer is crippling people financially. Patients in Ireland devastated by a cancer diagnosis are then going on to really struggle to make ends meet.” “At a time where they should be focusing on their health and getting through their cancer treatment, they are worrying about bills stacking up. Most patients and often their partners are already suffering huge losses in income. This can result in people having to choose between paying hospital charges over putting the heating on. It could also mean choosing to buy medication over putting food on the table. Nobody should have to make that choice.”

Sinead Kealy from Donabate was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma just months after giving birth to her first child. She said, “It took my family ten years to recover from my cancer diagnosis. I lost over €18,000 in earnings while I was in treatment and built up a credit card debt of €12,000 – all as a result of my cancer. It was like being hit by a bus. It changed my life completely. “I was just married, with a four month old baby, I had a good job, and suddenly I was faced with cancer and all that brings with it. Besides thinking about how or if I would survive this diagnosis, things like heating costs, childcare, parking and food were a constant worry. It was daily struggle to get by and I often had to turn to the credit card. I live in fear of my cancer returning because I honestly don’t know how I would cope again financially.”

David Berry, Managing Director with Kantar added, “This research clearly demonstrates the very broad range of areas in which cancer patients face new or extra financial challenges. The huge array of costs all add up to create a really significant and crippling burden on Irish cancer patients.”

Averil Power concluded: “We are calling for action so that no one is more worried about bills mounting up than they are about getting better. We need the Government to stop the endless charges it levies on cancer patients. We need better access to medical cards and a greater appreciation of the huge financial strain of having cancer. The double whammy of increased costs and loss of income needs to be taken into account when considering what cancer patients can reasonably bear. The Irish Cancer Society will continue to push Government so that a more compassionate and understanding approach is taken.”

For the full report go to www.cancer.ie/realcostreport. Anyone concerned about cancer can contact the Irish Cancer Society Nurseline on 1800 200 700 or call into one of 13 Daffodil Centres in hospitals nationwide.