Work and money

Being diagnosed with cancer can have an impact on your finances.

You may not be able to work, or can only work part time, and you may have to pay for travel to treatment sessions. If a family member is caring for you, they may also need to stop working.

Work

You have rights at work, and are protected from discrimination if you have cancer. Your employer must make reasonable adjustments (changes) to make sure you are not at a disadvantage at work. Talk to your employer about changes they can make to make it possible for you to carry on working if you want to. This will depend on the kind of job you have, but might include:

  • working part time
  • a flexible start or finish time
  • changing your duties
  • taking more breaks at work
  • working more from home.

If you or your family member are working, speak to your employer about your options. Some workplaces have an employee assistance programme which provides free advice to employees about a range of issues including work and benefits. Check with your HR department whether this is available.

Macmillan Cancer Support have more information about work and cancer. An organisation called Fit for Work provides free work related health advice.

Money

Get support with financial issues and find out about benefits and grants as soon as possible. Macmillan Cancer Support, Carers UK, Carers Trust and Citizens Advice can provide expert information and advice about this.

These are some things that might help.

  • You and your family may be able to claim for benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Attendance Allowance. Macmillan Cancer Support have an online Benefits Calculator.
  • Benefits advisers can be a big help with understanding the process of claiming benefits and filling in forms. Contact Macmillan Cancer Support or your local Citizens Advice service to speak to an adviser.
  • If you have cancer that can’t be cured, special rules may apply that can speed up the process of claiming benefits. Your doctor would need to fill out a DS1500 form.
  • Prescriptions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are free. In England, the person you are caring for can get free prescriptions if they are having treatment for cancer, or for their symptoms and side effects. They will need to apply for a medical exemption certificate. Ask their GP, hospital or local pharmacy for a FP92A form.
  • You may be able to apply for a grant from a charity or fund, for example to help with bills, or buy equipment. The Elizabeth Coteman Fund provides grants to people with pancreatic cancer.
  • There is help available with the cost of travelling to hospital for treatment.
  • Ask your hospital about parking costs. Some hospitals offer free or cheaper parking for people who have to go to hospital for treatment regularly, but don’t need to stay overnight (an outpatient).
  • You may be able to get help with various health costs, like dental treatment, eye tests, glasses, and travel to hospital. Ask your GP or check online at the NHS Business Services Authority at nhs.uk
  • You may be able to get help with your heating bills. Ask your energy supplier if they provide any help to people with cancer. There are also government schemes to help with heating costs, or you could try switching to a cheaper supplier. Macmillan Cancer Support have more information about reducing your energy bills.

“Money was a very big worry for my Dad. One call to a Macmillan benefits adviser helped sort things out for him. It’s no longer a worry.”

Updated October 2021

Review date October 2023