Sarah’s story: “Help with grants..when we really needed it”
Sarah was diagnosed with grade three breast cancer at just 22 after noticing a lump and going back and forth to the doctors to get it checked. As a mum to three children, Sarah is finding it hard to juggle her treatment and its side effects alongside the financial impact having to travel to the hospital is having. Sarah has to pay to travel to hospital which can be £15 in taxi fares each time and her bills are rising.
Sarah’s Young Lives vs Cancer social worker Kate has helped her apply for financial help by arranging for her to get a sick note and has offered her financial grants to help ease the rising costs and their impact.
“It was just after Christmas, I noticed a lump on my left breast. My doctor sent me away four times saying it was a fat lump or a blocked milk duct and then the fifth time I went back to see her and I said ‘no I’m not seeing you’ and I waited to see another person and they referred me and that same week it came back with grade three breast cancer.
“When the other lady referred me, she told me that – without even touching the lump – she said that needs to be seen so she referred me. I went in for various scans, mammograms, biopsies and they said it was cancer.
“It was kind of like shock but not shock, I’m still processing it. I’m on chemo tablets an anti-hormone injection and anti-hormone tablets so there’s times it just doesn’t feel real. I’m still grasping it.
“The tablets, they get prescribed once a month and I’m on for 21 days and then off for 7 and then I start again. Every four weeks I go to the hospital so they can re-prescribe my tablets and make sure everything’s going ok. My injection is done at my doctors surgery.”
Sarah is mum to three young children. She has noticed her energy levels have dropped since she has been on treatment.
“I’m more tired all the time, I can sit on the sofa and I’ll be talking and I just fall asleep and then hot flushes so when I’ve got a hot flush I can’t pick the kids up because I’m too hot. If I pick them up, my body thinks I’m working it too much.”
When Sarah was first diagnosed she was at the hospital various times a week. She noticed that she was having to spend out a lot on fuel and transport to travel there.
“When my friend could take me, I would give her money for petrol which would be £5 each trip. But there’s other times I’ve had to pay out £12-15 for a taxi.”
As well as extra costs to pay out for due to going to hospital, Sarah has also noticed her household costs are rising too.
“Just for a month gas and electric, for both of them combined I pay nearly £500 a month, it’s quite a lot. I used to pay £120 for gas and then £187 for my electric, that’s if I didn’t do washing everyday. If I did washing as much as I actually need to, it would be up to £230 for my electric.”
This is having a massive impact on Sarah and her family’s finances.
“There’s certain things that I can’t do, I can’t take the kids to the beach because I don’t have the money to take the kids down there. It was my daughter’s first birthday the other day and I could literally get her a cake and that was it. So it has affected us quite massively.”
Sarah’s Young Lives vs Cancer social worker Kate has been supporting Sarah, helping her to access benefits and has offered her grants to help ease the impact of her rising costs.
“She helped me with a couple of grants, she got them done so quickly when we really needed it. At one point my daughter’s bed broke and we bought a new one. She also referred us to a team that was helping with days out for the kids.
“She also told me to talk to my job centre and do a working capability assessment, I’ve done that and they looked at the evidence and said ‘you’re right you do have very minimal capability for work’. My cancer they’ve told it is incurable, they can’t do anything other than give me tablets so it’s more controlled so I have a little bit longer to live.”
As well as helping with the costs, Kate has also been there to help Sarah face the emotional impact a cancer diagnosis can bring.
“There are times she messages me just to check up on me which has been really helpful – there have been times where I just bottle these things up and then I’ll knock a drink off the arm of the sofa and I’m sat there crying at it at 3 o’clock in the morning. There’s definitely been times she has gone above and beyond just to know I’m ok.”
Posted on Monday 21 November 2022