Your child’s treatment can create sudden extra costs, such as travel, extra childcare and bills. It can be easy to get into debt if you aren’t prepared - especially if you've given up work or had to reduce your hours. But there are ways to cut down your spend with allowances, schemes and a bit of savvy know-how.
Managing the costs of cancer
Cancer can change the way you live in unexpected ways. You may need to buy more or different food because your child's tastes and appetite have changed with treatment. They might need new clothes if their weight has fluctuated, or need the heating on more often if they are feeling colder.
Look after your financial wellbeing
Once you have a better idea of your outgoings, it’s a good idea to set a budget as this can help you plan better and feel more in control.
You have a right to claim financial support because of your child's health condition. However, you may still need to borrow money in addition to this. It’s important to fully inform yourself of the options before you do this so you can borrow safely and with confidence.
It’s certainly not uncommon to be in debt but it’s important to know how to manage it sensibly and deal with it head on. Taking proactive steps can prevent you from feeling like it’s taking over and helps you stay in control.
Prioritise other immediate costs
There are certain costs that families report causing the biggest strain after their child is diagnosed. You might want to prioritise the costs listed below for any savings you could make.
Your child's treatment centre may involve long-distance travel, which could mean added petrol, parking charges, or even buying a new or more reliable car to meet your needs. Some hospitals reimburse travel expenses if you’re on a low income so this is a good thing to check in the first instance.
Most children’s wards have space for one parent or carer to stay while their child is having treatment but depending on their regime, you may find yourself having to pay out for alternative accommodation. CLIC Sargent provides free self-catering Homes from Home close to many specialist treatment centres, where you and your family may be able to stay.
Additional childcare arrangements
You may need to arrange additional care for other children who need looking after and picking up from school, or perhaps your childcare arrangements are no longer the most affordable option. Employed parents have the right to unpaid time off to deal with emergencies involving a dependent, which can be used to deal with the immediate problem of childcare. In the longer term, it’s a good idea to find someone willing to look after your children at short notice.
Even though prescriptions for people having treatment for cancer are free, there may be a range of other health costs that they will need to pay for.
Updated July 2017, next review due 2018.