A CHARITY has launched a campaign which aims to deal with the cash problems that can affect people and families living with cancer.
Although many people find they are forced to curb their spending in January, this time of the year can be especially tough for cancer patients.
Now, Macmillan Cancer Relief is aiming to make cancer patients and their families aware of the help available, including Macmillan grants.
Up to three-quarters of cancer patients are said to suffer cash difficulties.
In 2004, Macmillan gave 17,102 people grants totalling more than £6.5m, up 23% on 2003.
Last year, a grant paid the fuel bills of an elderly man whose cancer treatment had caused him to lose weight and feel susceptible to the cold.
He had resorted to sitting in the dark and cold in the early evenings because he was so anxious about paying the bills.
Although a high proportion of cash is given to cover expenses such as fuel and travel, Macmillan will consider giving grants to allow people to have a better life.
Rolf Millican, Macmillan Cancer Relief patient welfare manager, said: "Patients have told us that money worries are a huge problem for them.
"Often they lose their income and then have to face the extra costs of having cancer, such as travel to hospital and prescription charges.
"However, Macmillan provides immediate practical help for those on low or reduced incomes at what is already a very stressful time," said Mr Millican.
Applications for Macmillan grants come via a health or social care professional and are dealt with as quickly as possible.
A cheque is normally sent out within three days of the application being received.
People affected by cancer can get more information about the help that is available and a free booklet, Help With The Cost Of Cancer, by calling the Better Deal campaign hotline free on 0800 500 800 or logging on to www.macmillan.org.uk/abetterdeal