Plight of Ulster's cancer sufferers
A cancer charity has revealed it receives more requests to help pay fuel bills from patients in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK.
Macmillan Cancer Support said more than 50% of its grants helped patients pay escalating fuel bills last year.
In 2007 Macmillan issued grants totalling over £576,000 to 1,534 people in need from Northern Ireland, an increase of 228 people from the previous year.
Of this total 1,283 of these requests were for help with increasing fuel costs.
The charity revealed the shock figures in the wake of an announcement that the cost of gas is to jump by a massive 28%.
Phoenix told its customers to expect to pay an extra £130 a year on bills from next month.
Macmillan Cancer Support said dealing with financial problems can be almost as difficult as coping with the illness itself.
The charity helps people in financial difficulties because of their illness by giving grants to help pay fuel bills and travel costs, or for items to make life easier or for other, individual needs.
Heather Monteverde, Macmillan's General Manager for Northern Ireland, said: " Many people with cancer are eligible for benefits and we offer advice and support. Macmillan grants help with one-off urgent needs or those that fall outside the benefits system.
"As the cost of living increases, and fuel prices rise, the situation is looking bleak for everyone, but even more so for people affected by cancer who can struggle financially to pay bills."
Anyone in financial difficulties due to cancer can ring Macmillan helpline on 08 0050 0800.