This post is in collaboration with Insurancewith.
No-one expects to be given a cancer diagnosis. The chemotherapy, surgery, sickness, countless hospital stays aren’t the only thing you have to deal with, there’s physically & mentally a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. During my own battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma there were a lot of hidden costs I had absolutely no clue about, some personal and others more financial, it wasn’t easy as well as battling for my life I had to deal with all the uncertainty of everything else.
Once I was diagnosed I was also given the news that I had lost my job as they had gone into administration so the financial impact started straight away, I had no income coming in and actually had to dip into my savings now and then to keep on top of everything which obviously wasn’t ideal. Most of the hidden costs were financial like you would expect but more personal things like losing friendships were a big part of my cancer diagnosis.
Travel and Insurance
One of the biggest things for me was travelling and holidays. It was one thing throughout my cancer fight that kept me going. Knowing that once all my treatment was over I could go somewhere new and explore but it wasn’t that easy, cancer takes a lot from you including your ability to be well enough to be able to fly. Being diagnosed with a long term illness like cancer and being pumped full of drugs, feeling so weak you need something to look forward to and for me it’s always a holiday, it’s that feeling of stepping off a plane and having the heat hit you, you just can beat it.
When I was going through my first lot of treatment about halfway through we decided to book a holiday abroad for when I knew I would be finished with treatment so I had something to look forward to, I remember I kept looking at the hotel on Trip Advisor on my bad days knowing I would be there soon. The only thing I knew that was going to be a problem was insurance..
I spent hours looking online for different companies for holiday insurance, filling in my details over and over to get a quote but they were all coming up with stupid premiums, some more than the actual holiday which was in the thousands. Being turned down for insurance is something I didn’t think would happen in my 20’s. I felt pretty down about the whole situation and I just remember thinking we were going to have to cancel the holiday if I couldn’t find insurance.
Thankfully I came across Insurancewith while looking on a couple of cancer sites and I just knew from the moment I saw their website I was going to be able to get cover. The quote process was simple and the questions were more suited to me, nothing like the others I had been trying. They just seemed to understand what I needed from an insurance policy as a cancer patient. I felt so comfortable and safe having my insurance policy from them because it just seemed a lot more personal. Insurancewith made it super simple and the quote premium was a lot more affordable which meant a holiday in Egypt could happen which after my treatment was very much needed even though I got very badly sunburnt, oops.
Insurance is something as a cancer patient/survivor can be so overwhelming and stressful and can sometimes take away the fun of the holiday but Insurancewith make it super easy. Cancer shouldn’t stop you from travelling.
You lose friends following a cancer diagnosis if you didn’t know, something I thought would never happen. When you start your treatment everyone is very much behind you and honestly can’t do enough, well in my experience anyway but as time goes on you start to lose a few friendships that you may have had for just a few months or even years, it may be that they can’t handle it so they become distant. It’s sad to lose friends at a time when so much else is falling apart in your life but on the flip side, cancer often brings new friends into your life and I can very much vouch for that as I now have so many amazing friends from all over the world who support me and if it wasn’t for cancer I wouldn’t have met them.
I had a close friend who I knew for a good few years and one day they stopped replying to my texts & calls and straight up blocked me on all forms of social media. To this day I have no idea why. I understand that life can get busy and I really don’t expect that much off someone but I’ll never understand why someone will let a cancer diagnosis tarnish a good friendship. You don’t want friends that will just drop off the radar when things get tough and then reappear when things are good again, it just doesn’t work like that.
Losing your hair after going through chemotherapy can take a massive toll on your self-image. I felt so uncomfortable going outside during my treatment without a wig or some kind of head scarf. Looking back now I wish I could have embraced my bald head but at the time I couldn’t do it but that’s where wigs come in, they help you feel more like yourself and it’s like you’ve got your safety blanket back, for me it felt like that anyway.
The cost of wigs cant be super expensive, especially a real hair one but there are other options. On the NHS you can actually get a synthetic one for free but they only usually last 6-9 months and actually are quite uncomfortable to wear but because I went through my treatment in some of the colder months I tended to wear a beanie over mine and it definitely helped me feel more confident as I always feel like you can tell a synthetic wig to a real one, they are always more shiny (pro tip: Use dry shampoo to make the hair more dull). You can get real hair wigs which have come from people donating their own hair for cancer patients but they can cost up to £2,000 which is a massive cost for someone undergoing treatment.
I think for me it was a confidence thing as cancer does take a lot from you and your hair is a massive thing to lose but not only did I lose mine once, I lost mine twice because I relapsed and even though I was more prepared the second time nothing compares to losing your hair to cancer and the feeling of having your hair shaved off is something I will never be able to forget.
Transport and fuel costs
Travelling to different hospitals every few days for tests can become very expensive because of the fuel you use and of course the car parking charges but don’t get me started on those.
As I relapsed not too long after my first lot of treatment I didn’t exactly have a choice of what hospitals I could go to as there were only certain ones where I could have the treatment, thankfully one of the hospitals was only a 15 minute drive from home but the parking was horrific, you could drive around for a good hour and still not find a space and the other one was a good hour and a half drive. I was an inpatient for about a month and my family took turns everyday to come and see me and as you can imagine the fuel costs would have been a lot. Some people aren’t as lucky as me though and spend a lot of their time driving to and from hospitals way further than an hour and a half so you can imagine all the costs from parking to fuel.
I felt so gulitly for asking my family to come and visit knowing they would have to pay a lot and to be honest I think it’s wrong you have to pay out so much when you are literally fighting for your life but there’s nothing you can do, you need the treatment.