Cancer patients rely on charity to pay the bills

FREEZING cancer patients are increasingly being left to rely on charity handouts because spiralling fuel costs leave them unable to heat their homes.

Macmillan Cancer Support revealed this week that the charity has given more than £104,000 to 320 people in Sussex – including many in Eastbourne – and that 37 per cent of this was purely to help sufferers pay energy bills.

Carol Fenton, of Macmillan Cancer Support locally, said, “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 spend long periods of time at home.

“When the charity was established 100 years ago, founder Douglas Macmillan helped cancer patients by handing out sacks of coal to keep them warm.

“It is shocking that a century on, people diagnosed with this devastating disease are still relying on charity help to heat their freezing homes.”

According to the charity when someone is diagnosed with cancer, their income often drops because they are too ill to work.

Seven in 10 people under 55 experience a reduced income losing on average 50 per cent.

However, their bills often rise because they need to spend more time at home and feel the chill more because of their treatment.

Despite the impact fuel poverty has on cancer patients, few patients benefit from government and energy companies’ schemes.

To find out about the help available to cancer patients, or to make a donation to support Macmillan’s work, call freephone 0808 808 0000 or visit

• Are you one of those affected by rising fuel payments? Would you like to talk to the Herald about it for a future feature on the subject? Email