When you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with cancer, money may not be one of the first things you think about; your income may be reduced, if you have to give up work due to illness or to look after someone, but the bills stay the same, or may increase as you spend more time at home. If you are struggling to cope with the financial effects of cancer it is important to remember that there are a range of different benefits available that could help.
The aim of this section is to explain what financial benefits are available and to provide the support contacts you require to get this help.
With the right advice and information, you will be able to get the help you need with your money worries.
The Disability Discrimination Act protects anyone in Northern Ireland who has, or has had, cancer. Even if a person who had cancer in the past has been successfully treated and is now cured, they will still be covered by the act.
This means their employer must not discriminate against them for any reason, including their past cancer.
If you feel you have been discriminated in work because of your cancer, contact the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. To find your local Bureau, please visit www.citizensadvice.co.uk
Taking time off work during treatment
How much work you feel you are able to do during cancer treatment might depend on a number of factors. These may include the type of treatment you are having, the stage of your cancer, your overall health and the type of work you do.
You may find that you are able to keep working during cancer treatment. Or you may find that you need to stop working to cope with the effects of the cancer and its treatment.
You will probably need to take time off for appointments, treatment and follow-up. In most cases, under equality laws your employer will give you a reasonable amount of time off work to attend necessary hospital appointments.
Your employer may be able to make reasonable adjustments to allow you to go to hospital appointments. You could discuss the issue of appointments with your employer at an early stage to agree how they should be dealt with.
Talking to your employer about your need for time off will mean they can support you in the best way possible.
Talking through your feelings can often help. You may wish to speak to a partner, family member or friend, a health professional involved in your care, or a trained professional not directly involved in your care, for example a counsellor. The Northern Health and Social Care Trust have support groups available to you to help you deal with the range of emotions of feelings you might have.
For information about these support groups, please visit the Cancer Survivorship NI website at www.survivorship.cancerni.net