When my mum Sue was diagnosed with bladder cancer, my world stopped turning then and there. I know a lot of people feel the same but we were really close. We were best friends. I’m lucky to be part of an extremely positive family - all we ever did was mess around and make each other laugh.
Mum had kept getting what she thought were water infections but after being sent to hospital, we were told she had terminal cancer and only had three months to live. I was in complete shock but mum was so strong and positive. They couldn’t cure her cancer but they could give her more time and she was grateful for that. She had five grandchildren who were all the apples of her eye and she wanted to spend as much time as possible with them.
I packed my bags and moved in with mum straight away. I just wanted to be with her and knew she would need a lot of help and care. It was a tough time, especially with two little girls in tow, but I’m so glad we could spend those special final months together.
Although I remember it as special now, it was also extremely tough. Mum was working full-time as a private nurse but had to go onto benefits following her diagnosis as she couldn’t work anymore. They took months to sort out so she actually had no income for about 2 months and had to make her wages she had from work stretch– it was a really scary time and mum was even worried about losing her home.
There was just so much to worry about, it feels like a bit of a haze now – mum’s health, her finances, her final moments, what would happen in the future. It was all too much.
One of our main concerns which we couldn’t ignore were mum’s bills – they kept coming through the letterbox each month and we just didn’t have the money to pay them. Even worse, mum was constantly freezing when she was going through treatment.
No matter how many layers she wore, she just couldn’t get warm which meant we put the heating on a lot more and we just watched the bills rise not knowing how we were going to pay them.
I now know this is an issue which affects a lot of people living with cancer, especially during the freezing weather we’re experiencing at the moment. According to research from Macmillan and npower, nearly a third (31%) of people living with cancer say they feel the cold more for reasons related to their diagnosis and treatment such as weight and hair loss, a lack of appetite, reduced energy levels and circulation problems.
They have also found that of those people, at least one in seven suffer with depression (15%) or anxiety (14%) and nearly a quarter (23%) say they have sleepless nights or difficulty sleeping as a result of feeling the cold more.
I can relate to this myself as feeling the cold can make me feel miserable at the best of times. For mum, it was another trouble she was having to deal with day in and day out which made her feel frustrated and uncomfortable when she was already so unwell.
Luckily, we found out about npower’s Macmillan Fund - I wasn’t aware but Macmillan is working with npower to support people living with cancer who are struggling to keep warm. They capped mum’s heating bills and they became much more manageable.
Mum had so much taken away from her but this support meant we had a bit more control over her financial situation and could have the heating on and use electricity without worrying. We could focus on the important things like making mum comfortable and making positive memories together as a family.
Mum sadly passed away seven months after she was diagnosed – she proved the prognosis wrong! Although Mum is no longer with us, she saw the help from npower and Macmillan as a godsend at the time and I want to keep raising awareness so that more people know the about brilliant support available.
Macmillan Cancer Support and npower have been working together for 13 years to help people living with cancer keep warm without worrying about the cost. If you’re living with cancer and struggling to pay your energy bills, visit macmillan.org.uk/keepwarm to find out how we can help.