Money. The thing that makes the world go round. The thing we throw ourselves into cars and trains to earn. Hard to get on without it really.
So what happens when you cannot work? Some have savings, others have made provisions just in case and others have to ask for help.
I found myself doing the latter. I was diagnosed and as I was not given much time I claimed benefits. I took advice from a variety of agencies as the system itself is really hard. Which benefit? Where to claim? This sounds easy right? Not in the slightest! A minefield to be honest. At a time of great upset and when money and bills are the last thing on your mind. But I cracked on.
I filled out form after form. How many metres can you walk? Can you be left alone? Can you wash yourself? Can you cook a meal? One question asked how my mental state was, this needed to be at the start. I guess no one can predict outcomes, but like education, your health is unique and not one person is the same as another. So I start the point of why? Why does our benefit system treat each of us the same. I had an assessment the same as everyone else. However I am not everyone else. I am dying.
My situation is not going to improve. I have not pulled a muscle. I am not going to go back to work. I am not sure how long until I get symptoms. I am not sure of anything, yet I am expected to tell a standard form. To sit with a "health practitioner", whom I have found only needs a first aid certificate, and explain why I cannot work. There are millions of us with endless cancers and prognosis, struggling to see through the cloud of the disease. We rely on voluntary organisations, who would love to do more for us, yet can only advice. There are those for end of time help but still cannot soothe your pain. Cancer is not going away and yes we are researching everyday and finding new cures and treatments, yet the benefit system is in the dark ages.
This frustrated the hell out of me! So I educated myself a little. I made sure that I had everything possible. How long did this take I hear you ask? Well... I was diagnosed in 2015 and today, May 2017, my husband and I attended a tribunal to ask for £500 income support to be backdated. Yes, that long and no, we were not successful. The reason? We are intelligent people who had the means and family support to claim earlier. So all the lonely uneducated will win perhaps?
The tribunal decision upset me, I can tell you. So, as I usually do, I vented on my keyboard. I asked the Prime Minister for an audience! There is shake up after shake up of the system. Millions are claimed fraudulently. But also millions are not claimed at all due to lack of knowledge and help. Change this, make a new one of this, all just wasting public money. The minefield just spreads into the next field and the fraudsters still win and the genuine come last. We are all unique and our system is unique so therefore we should be treated uniquely. Sounds hard but I am willing in my last years here to help others to avoid wasting precious time.
So, if diagnosed you must talk with your cancer care worker. We all have one. They will direct you to a variety of agencies. Marie Curie help with support for terminally ill people, helping with family and carers. They help those who want to die at home and support you through your last days. A voluntary organisation. Most are. None funded by the Government. All hand outs from the public. Macmillan are amazing. They will help with absolutely everything you will need to ask. You can also ask your care worker or district nurse to refer you.
Then you must go to the citizens advice. Acquire your own advisor. They will help with all paperwork, any tribunals and health assessments you may need to attend. There is help out there. You just need help to find it all. Finally, after all those visits just check you have everything in place. This website is really good for this. All benefits, wills, funeral arrangements. Do it all. Then you can live today!
Tonight, 16th May, I am going to talk to our Prime Minister. 7pm. With half of the nation. However, I have my speech. I have the endless, unanswered emails to Number 10. I have my unanswered emails to the Conservative party. I am ready!
I am going to ask why terminally ill and long term disabled are being put through the ringer. Why we are being assessed and reassessed when we are not altering? Why for two years I had to try to save my life and stop myself from resorting to food banks? Why my best friend, who has had her benefits stopped as "she did not meet the criteria". She did not die within the timeframe diagnosed. She has weekly chemotherapy. She is holding on. But has had to go to work! A single parent on palliative care who needs to feed her children and pay the bills.
My friend is not an unusual case. Just another sad one.
So my next post is going to be Theresa's reply. Watch this space.Suggest a correction