Cancer can cost Ulster sufferers their homes
New research out today shows 6% of Ulster people lose their home after being diagnosed with cancer and almost 20% have difficulties in keeping up with their mortgage or rental payments, according to charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
For those with cancer who are self-employed, the figure is higher still with 11% losing their home.
There are 39,000 people living with cancer in Northern Ireland and Macmillan has released the findings of the charity's latest research in an effort to raise awareness of the issue.
Heather Monteverde, Macmillan's Northern Ireland's general manager, said: " This is shocking. Having cancer should not cost you your home. These figures show that, through cancer, thousands of people each year are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and some of those people have even lost their homes.
"If only they had been given the right help at the right time. Macmillan would like to see all patients given specialist benefits advice and financial help after being diagnosed with cancer."
Madeleine Mulgrew (49), from Dungannon, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and due to financial difficulties she had to sell her house.
She said: "I had just bought my house three years before I was diagnosed with cancer. I was so pleased to have a new family home, and then the cancer struck.
"I didn't think of the impact my illness would have on either my financial situation or my home life, but after 18 months of not being able to work, and struggling with the hidden additional costs related to my illness, I was unable to pay the mortgage and had to sell up.
"You just don't think these things will happen to you."
Heather Monteverde added: "These figures really hit home. Too many people are facing overwhelming financial pressures at a time when they are coping with cancer - borrowing money, moving in with family, selling up or moving to help make ends meet. Some even face repossession. Macmillan is raising awareness of this desperate financial situation to help prevent more cancer patients from reaching crisis point."
To help publicise the financial help available, Macmillan's Hitting Home campaign has launched a major awareness drive.
To find out about the help available, call the Macmillan campaign line free (0800 500 800) or visit www.macmillan. org.uk/abetterdeal