Because bowel (colorectal) cancer often develops later in life, many people are retired by the time the illness affects them, so it may not cause them significant financial difficulty. Households may also be unaffected if they do not depend on the income of the person who has cancer. But those still working at the onset of illness, people on fixed incomes, individuals who are self-employed, and those without insurance may experience considerable hardship. Difficulties with bowel habit can persist for years even after successful treatment, forcing some people into early retirement or a change of career.
One man whose job involved frequent travel explained how his unpredictable bowel habit led him to take early retirement. A young woman whose cancer coincided with a pregnancy wanted to be “doing something” but felt unable to resume her career in teaching:
Explains how his unpredictable bowel habit made it difficult to cope with his job.
Persistent problems with her bowel habit left her unable to resume her teaching career.
Households that relied on 2 incomes had to adjust to living with less money. The transition from living on employment income to pensions or benefits can also be difficult. One man explained how he coped with this and how Macmillan Cancer Support were able to help with winter heating costs.
People who are self-employed face particular difficulties. One man who ran a newsagents described how financially vulnerable his illness left him. Another man who works freelance explains how difficult life would have become if not for an insurance policy taken out years earlier. The importance of having adequate insurance cover was also emphasised by a man who believed that money-related stress might have compromised the effectiveness of his chemotherapy.
He explains the difficulty of moving from employment income to a pension after illness hastened…
Being classed as self-employed left him financially vulnerable.
For a freelance professional having income replacement insurance has been vital.
Financial worries, though, did put a considerable strain on some older people. A pensioner who had to go into hospital on short notice experienced anxiety before her operation because she needed someone else to collect her pension money and pay her rent. The wife of an older cancer patient who lived in a rural area and did not drive faced taxi fares of £40 a day in order to visit her husband in hospital.
Having to go into hospital at short notice left her needing someone else to collect her pension…
People with bowel cancer are usually entitled to one or more government benefits. For more information on help with the cost of cancer see GOV.UK’s website.