When you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with cancer, money may not be one of the first things you think about, however, your income may be reduced if you have to give up work due to illness or to look after someone. Bills may stay the same, or they may increase as you spend more time at home. If you are struggling to cope with the financial effects of cancer it is important to remember that there are a range of different benefits that could help.

The aim of this section is to explain what financial benefits are available and to provide details of who to contact to get help or more information.

With the right advice and information, you will be able to get the help you need with your money worries.

Employment rights

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) protects anyone in Northern Ireland who has, or has had, cancer. Even if a person who had cancer in the past has been successfully treated and is now cured, they will still be covered by the Act.

This means their employer must not discriminate against them for any reason, including their past cancer.

If you feel you have been discriminated in work because of your cancer, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.  To find your local Bureau, visit www.citizensadvice.co.uk

Taking time off work during treatment

How much work you feel you are able to do during cancer treatment will depend on a number of factors. These may include the type of treatment you are having, the stage of your cancer, your overall health and the type of work you do.

You may find that you are able to keep working during cancer treatment, or you may find that you need to stop working to cope with the effects of the cancer and its treatment.

You will probably need to take time off for appointments, treatment and follow-up. Your employer may be able to make reasonable adjustments to allow you to go to hospital appointments.  You should discuss the issue of appointments with your employer at an early stage to agree how they should be dealt with.

Talking to your employer about your need for time off will mean they can support you in the best way possible.

Getting support

Talking through your feelings can often help.  You may wish to speak to a partner, family member or friend, a health professional involved in your care, or a trained professional not directly involved in your care, for example a counsellor.  The Northern Health and Social Care Trust has support services available to help you deal with the range of emotions and feelings you might have.

For information about these support groups visit the Cancer Survivorship NI website or contact the NHSCT Macmillan Information and Support Service.

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