Thousands of middle-aged cancer patients forced to borrow money from parents

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Thousands of middle-aged people with cancer are forced to borrow money from their parents to cover their living costs during treatment.

Expenses such as hospital transport and loss of earnings typically amount to around £570 a month, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

More than 30,000 cancer patients in their 40s and 50s have taken out loans from the "bank of mum and dad" and around 2,000 moved back in with their parents or in-laws to make ends meet, the charity has found.

Terry Whitewas almost lost his house and was forced to borrow £2,000 in addition to claiming benefits after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The 56-year-old, from Nottinghamshire, said: "Life before cancer had been comfortable. I'd worked hard and saved hard, but six months into an eight-month chemo regime, our savings had dwindled to nothing and our finances had spiralled out of control.

"I had to claim benefits for the first time in my life, with the threat of our home being repossessed hanging over us.

"It got so bad that I had to borrow £2,000 from my 78-year old parents.

"It was deeply embarrassing that at this time in my life I was going cap-in-hand to ask for their support."

Macmillan estimates that around 700,000 people with cancer of all ages are also vulnerable because they have no savings to fall back on.

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "It is heart-breaking that people with cancer might have to go cap-in-hand to their elderly parents to ask for money simply to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table.

"The cost of cancer is robbing people of their independence and leaving them embarrassed, ashamed and dependent."

She called on the Government, health care professionals, banks and insurance companies to do more to support people with the disease.

A Government spokesman said: "Cancer can affect all areas of a person's life and we have worked closely with cancer charities to ensure patients get all the support they need, including through our benefits system.

"Last year we announced that by 2020 everyone diagnosed with cancer in England will benefit from an individually tailored recovery package developed by Macmillan Cancer Support, which helps ensure patients get rehabilitation, work and financial support services."