Paresh and Bhavna Rathod from Headingley in Leeds, whose son Rohan was diagnosed with cancer aged 2, are backing a new campaign from children and young people’s cancer support charity CLIC Sargent that aims to highlight and ease the hidden financial burden of cancer - and are urging the local community to do the same.
According to the charity’s research, the largest expense that families face is caused by the cost of travelling to specialist hospitals for treatment, which can be many miles from home.
The Headingley family, who received ‘invaluable’ support from CLIC Sargent have signed the charity’s petition to Prime Minister Theresa May, urging her to take action now to help ease these financial problems, and are calling on local people to get involved to help the charity to reach its target of over 10,000 signatures by the end of 2016.
Rohan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2010. He faced three years of gruelling treatment, but now aged 8 is in remission and enjoying school.
Paresh, who is originally from Bradford, explains:
“It was a massive thing we all went through together, and his mum and I will never forget it.
“We both work, had understanding employers and lived relatively nearby to where Rohan was treated at Leeds Children’s Hospital, but other parents we met on the ward weren’t so lucky.
“I remember one family who were travelling to and from Scarborough every day to visit their child. As well as being totally exhausting it must have got expensive too…Rohan was in for a couple of weeks at a time when he was in treatment.
“I signed the petition for them, and families going through it now. Please show your support by doing the same.
“When your child is critically ill the last thing you should have to worry about is money.”
CLIC Sargent provides a £170 grant to families following diagnosis, to help with immediate extra costs, like travel and hospital parking. It gave out £1.1 million in grants in 2015/16. The charity also provides free accommodation at 10 Homes from Home around the UK near hospitals where children are treated for cancer, saving families from expensive hotel bills.
CLIC Sargent is one of two charities in the running for a £7 million charity partnership with Bradford-based supermarket Morrisons. If the charity wins the upcoming staff vote, it will be able to double the amount of financial grants it currently gives to families, and provide far greater nursing support to help children and young people facing cancer.
Despite being in a comfortable position financially, Paresh says that he too had concerns about money during Rathod’s treatment due to extra costs, but help was at hand from their CLIC Sargent Social Workers Julie and Laura.
“Even for us, the extra costs started to mount up. If it hadn’t been for the support we had from CLIC Sargent to claim Disability Living Allowance, a benefit for sick children to help with these extra costs, things would have got really tough.
“Laura and then Julie from CLIC Sargent were there for us every step of the way to guide us through everything that was happening. We had a lot of questions along the way, and they were always there to talk to. We have a strong network of family and friends, but none of us knew about cancer, so their expertise was invaluable.”
Kate Lee, Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent, said:
“The pressure of managing finances causes considerable stress and anxiety during what is an already impossible time for families. This is not right or fair.
“CLIC Sargent will continue be there for as many children and families as we can by providing practical and financial support but more needs to be done to ease this financial burden and help these families cope with the impact of cancer on their lives.
Sign CLIC Sargent's cancer costs petition and find out how you could help the charity win a £7million partnership with the supermarket Morrisons.
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