MACMILLAN Cancer Support gave out £36,000 worth of grants last year to help people in Swindon struggling with the financial hardship that cancer can bring.

With hundreds of cancer patients in Swindon relying on charity handouts to stay above the breadline, Macmillan is calling on the Government to change the law to ensure banks do more for cancer patients.

In 2016, Swindon Macmillan provided approximately £15,700 to help people living with cancer pay their heating bills, £4,200 for travel costs, £300 for stairlift installation and a further £4,500 to help clothe those who experience weight gain or loss due to their treatment.

Lee Hodgson, the head of services for the south west at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The sheer number of cancer patients turning to Macmillan for help highlights just how much they are struggling financially.

“To feel too scared to put the heating on because of soaring energy bills is an unacceptable reality for thousands of vulnerable cancer patients who feel the cold more and have to spend long periods of time at home.

“Just the cost of travel to and from daily chemotherapy appointments, for example, is one of a number of hidden costs cancer patients can be burdened with at a time when the majority of them face a bill comparable to a monthly mortgage payment.”

Across the south west region, the charity provided just over £849,300 in grants to help keep cancer patients financially afloat last year.

Having cancer costs an average of £570 a month for about 83 per cent of people.

This is mainly the result of lost income – if people are too ill to work – and increased expenses such as petrol if people need to travel to hospital and higher household bills because cancer patients often feel the cold more during treatment.

Lee said: “Although we’re campaigning for the Government to protect cancer patients with a legal duty of care at banks, anyone with cancer who’s struggling financially right now can contact our helpline to find what support is available to them.”

Anyone living in Swindon who has been affected by cancer can call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000.