A diagnosis of childhood cancer can inflict an average hit of $15,300 on annual family income, on top of other crippling extra costs, new research has shown.
Every year in Ireland about 200 children are diagnosed with cancer. The Irish Cancer Society surveyed 100 parents and guardians of a child who is currently going through or has recently experienced a cancer diagnosis. They revealed that families of children with cancer face significant additional costs related to travel, treatment and costs associated with care.
Irish Cancer Society CEO Averil Power says families are turned down when a child is diagnosed with cancer.
“Cancer is troubling at any age, but when a child or adolescent gets the disease, it turns the world upside down. Survival is of course the primary concern for families, but it is the magnitude of the financial woes that lie on top of such a life-altering diagnosis that is the shocking finding of this study.
“When a child is diagnosed, it is often the case that one of the parents has to stop working. In addition to obvious expenses such as fuel, food, parental housing and expensive hospital parking, there are a number of “hidden costs” such as childcare, play therapy sessions, and higher phone and broadband bills from spending more time outdoors. ”
Miss Power says they’ve spoken to families who indicate that in many cases they just have to “sit it out” as normal life disappears out the window.
“Household bills continue to pile up, putting some in the heartbreaking position of having to loot their savings, take out extra loans or ask others for financial help.”
The family of nine-year-old Saoirse Ruane, from Galway, who underwent a life-changing leg amputation at the age of seven after being diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2019, say they faced financial concerns in 2019. “terrifying” time.
Roseanna Ruane, mother of Saoirse, says that when a child becomes seriously ill, life comes to a standstill.
“It was terrifying and discouraging and I felt sick with worry and I honestly couldn’t stop crying.
For me, I wouldn’t leave her side, but that brought that extra worry about how we were going to survive on one paycheck. The bills still have to be paid and that is the reality. We were delighted to be able to get help from the Irish Cancer Society at the time, but definitely more needs to be done to help families through such a difficult time.”
Meanwhile, the Irish Cancer Society has announced new and expanded support for families affected by childhood cancer. They are increasing their children’s fund grant to €3,000 and making access easier so that more families can be supported through treatment.
They are also expanding their volunteer chauffeur service for children to help with transportation costs, and making it easier for families to access their support by establishing an Irish Cancer Society nursing unit in Children’s Health Ireland, Crumlin.
Anyone seeking advice or access to support and resources from the Irish Cancer Society can contact the toll-free support line on 1800 200 700 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
People can donate to support essential childhood cancer services and research from the Irish Cancer Society at cancer.ie/Ddonate.