Living with Lung Cancer

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Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.

Finances

How cancer hurts your pocket

Having lung cancer can hit your finances hard. Your income can drop like a stone if you stop working or are off sick for a long time; your household bills might go up because you are at home more, using heating and so forth. Travel bills might increase as you go back and forth to appointments.

Worries about health mean some people ignore the money side of things until they find themselves in a financial mess – it’s reckoned that most people with cancer are more than £500 a month worse off after their diagnosis. This is a problem you don’t need. There’s a lot of financial support available, including benefits, grants and other payments.

Knowledge is power

Knowing what you could get now or in the future can save you a lot of worry. Your doctor or lung cancer nurse specialist should be able to refer you to someone, such as a social worker, who can help figure out what support you might be able to get.

Watch this Roy Castle Foundation video about coping with finances:

Planning can bring peace of mind

Some people with lung cancer avoid making a will or planning end-of-life care because it seems morbid – why plan for something you hope won’t happen? But everyone – cancer or not – should sort these things out.

Leaving your affairs in a mess can cause all manner of problems for your loved ones. And having lung cancer doesn’t make you immune from accidents, strokes, dementia, heart attacks – none of us know what the future holds. If you lose the ability to make decisions or communicate you’ll have no say in your treatment or care unless you’ve already set out your wishes.

Don’t assume that if you die without a will (known as being intestate) everything goes to your loved ones: under intestacy rules partners, children and grandchildren could end up with nothing.

Sorting out these things now can bring a little peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Get organised

You could start by sorting out all your important papers, such a pension documents, savings records, insurance policies, banking details and so forth and keep them together in a safe place. This will make it easier for you to manage everything and will help others if they need to take over these things for you, even if only temporarily.

Choose someone to manage your affairs

The person you choose is called your ‘attorney’. It could be your partner, another relative or friend, or anyone you trust – you can have more than one. You can create a legal lasting power of attorney (LPA) to let the attorney make decisions about your money and property and/or your health and wellbeing. You can let the attorney look after your money and property any time after the LPA is set up or only if you become unable to do it yourself. The health and wellbeing power can be used only if you lose the ability to make your own decisions – this is called losing mental capacity.

Set out your wishes for future care

You can make an ‘advance statement’ about how you wish to be cared for if you become unable to tell people. This can cover areas of your life from religious beliefs to where you’d like live if you couldn’t be at home. It can cover all manner of things, such as what you like or don’t like to eat, whether you prefer a shower to a bath, or even what sort of music you prefer. It’s not legally binding but must be considered by those looking after you.

You can also make an ‘advance decision to refuse treatment’ – sometimes called a living will – if you know there are specific treatments you’d want to refuse in certain circumstances. There are strict rules about advance decisions but, if valid, they are legally binding on medical staff.

You could also use MyDirectives, a free service that lets you store your wishes securely online so they can be shared with your family and medical staff if needed.

Your will

If you haven’t made a will already think about doing it now. If you don’t make one, you won’t have any say over where your money and possessions go. It doesn’t have to cost anything to make a will; several cancer charities – including Roy Castle, Cancer Research UK, and Macmillan – offer free or discounted will-writing services.

Content on HealthUnlocked does not replace the relationship between you and doctors or other healthcare professionals nor the advice you receive from them.

Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.