Young cancer patients are “debiting their bank accounts” to afford the trip to their treatment.
Almost three-quarters of patients and their families fear they are spending nearly £300 a month on chemotherapy and radiotherapy in hospital.
Many travel up to 350 miles a month, with some even making a 100-mile round trip up to five times a week to get to the hospital.
Most can only travel by car as their immune systems are too weak for public transport, meaning families must find a way to afford the costs of petrol, congestion and taxis.
In fact, according to a study by Young Lives vs Cancer, one in ten patients missed or postponed an appointment because they couldn’t afford it.
Now charities and patients are demanding government financial support for those “only expected” to be able to fund the costs.
Kathryn, 22, from Flintshire, said when she was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma in 2019 she “became really concerned” after seeing how much it cost to get to the hospital.
She told Metro.co.uk: “I was up to five times a week at Christie Hospital in Manchester.” It was 100 miles to and from my home in North Wales, back and forth, and at the start of treatment it cost around £14 pounds of gasoline.
“My parents and I had to pay for it ourselves, and taking the train or bus wasn’t an option because my immune system was in such a terrible state.”
“We started to worry a lot about travel expenses because we don’t have much money.”
“I shouldn’t have to worry about that if I’m receiving life-saving treatment.”
Eventually, Kathryn and her family received a scholarship – but it was far from enough and the travel desks at the hospital soon closed.
“Eventually someone helped me look for grants but that didn’t cover much as we were only offered a £10 refund.” “It also didn’t take into account the many rush hour queues we were stuck in,” she said.
“But when Covid happened the travel desk at the hospital was closed. We were told there was another way to claim travel expenses but it was so complicated we just gave up.
“Also, I contracted sepsis four times during my treatment, which meant I was in the hospital while my mother had to drive back and forth every day with no help.”
Although Kathryn has been in remission for a year and a half, she still needs to be checked every four months.
But the cost of traveling to get these tests has only gotten higher as the cost-of-living crisis has hit gas prices.
She said: “The cost has gone up so much. It’s now around £18 to go there and I’m not getting a refund for that.”
Kathryn said having access to a fund would have made a “huge difference” during her treatment.
“Having a fund would have made a huge difference for me.” When I received my first reimbursement from the hospital I had only £200 left and was terrified of using my overdraft.
“You don’t plan on getting a diagnosis, but you need to have the money in your bank account to get treatment.”
You can sign the petition to set up a fund here.
The Christie said, “We understand the financial pressures that all cancer patients, especially young patients, face when undergoing treatment.”
“At The Christie, we work hard to ensure patients are able to recover the travel expenses that are due to them.
“During the pandemic, some teams were working remotely to minimize the footprint on the hospital campus and protect patients.”
“Patients were still able to claim travel expenses through the Healthcare Travel Cost Scheme (HTCS) and were paid either by check or bank transfer.”
Contact our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more stories like this, Check out our news page.