A WOMAN from West Lothian was left devastated after her mother was diagnosed with cancer while her dad was still being treated for the disease.
Former community education worker Joanne Moore was still helping to care for her dad John who had bladder cancer, when her mum was told she had cervical cancer.
Single-mum Joanne had to take time off work to care for her parents, before her mother Helen died last year.
Joanne said: “I was in a lot of shock and I was quite confused. It wasn’t easy giving up my job but I’m glad I did because in the end we only had 11 months left with my mum. She took a secondary cancer and died in November.”
After visiting the local job centre for advice, Joanne found out about the local Macmillan benefits advice service.
She said: “Because I had the right advice I was able to make a good choice. Having that time with my mum, although it was difficult, was the best time I have ever had. It’s not easy when you’re focused on your loved one to try to think of what financial support and benefits are available out there.”
READ MORE - Charity in focus: Macmillan Cancer Care
Macmillan Cancer Support has helped 112,000 cancer patients and their carers claim government benefits, grants and supported them to deal with debts.
£285 million in government benefits has been put in the pockets of cancer patients thanks to the charity’s welfare rights service.
Macmillan’s head in Scotland, Janice Preston, said: “Cancer can have a hugely negative impact on someone’s finances. Often they are forced to give up work while facing increased costs like travel to hospital.
“Many patients will never have claimed benefits before and trying to navigate the system and fill in long complex forms while dealing with the physical and emotional problems cancer brings can be very difficult.
“We are proud that the services pioneered by Macmillan have been able to help so many people. Demand is only likely to increase as a result of benefits cuts and changes.”
Macmillan’s 22 benefits services are offered in partnership with local authorities and Citizens Advice Bureaus. The Scottish Government fund the operation of the Macmillan services within the five cancer centres across Scotland.
Despite the huge reach of the services, Macmillan says there is still work to be done to make sure everyone gets help.
Janice added: “Some people are still slipping through the cracks and are missing out on benefits they desperately need simply because they don’t know help is available.
“The cancer plan published by the Scottish Government last week promises every cancer patient will be offered a holistic needs assessment, which includes an assessment of their financial needs.
“This is great news. We want every political party in Scotland pledge that if they get into power after the May elections they will follow through on this promise as a matter of urgency.”
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