Is there any financial support out there?


I'm looking for more advice! This time re. finances.

I recently (3 weeks today) had completion surgery for thyroid cancer (papillary) and am waiting on an appointment for the RAI. I was told by the endocrinologist it should be done 3-6 weeks after the last surgery. 3 weeks is tomorrow. I have never met the oncologist at Derby and I'm assuming I would have to go and meet him to talk through everything and then wait again for the actual treatment, with at least 2 weeks gap to come off thyroxine and do the low iodine diet?

Amidst all of the other worries atm, my major concern is actually financial. I'm on SSP and was advised by my GP that I should extend the sick note until after the treatment, as you can only claim once in a short time frame. My issue is I can't survive on £350 a month for much longer, but if I go back to work and then 3-6 weeks later, need another 3 weeks off for RAI, that will essentially be unpaid leave. I was advised to look into income support as I am claiming SSP, but that seems to be focusing on the previous years earnings and I have no real way of calculating the drop in salary for this year as I don't know how long this process is going to take. Also, at the end of the tax year in April, my earnings will probably be just over the threshold, but that doesn't help me pay my rent and bills in these 2-3 months. I used the last of my annual leave up on the first operation so my other option is to delay the RAI until April when my leave starts again but I don't know if that's an option, not having spoken to anyone about how it works etc.

Does anyone have any advice or experience? How did you manage? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

8 Replies

  • Vickybean,

    If you are taking Levothyroxine you will be asked to stop taking it 4 weeks prior to RAI to enable TSH to rise >30. You may be switched to Liothyronine (T3) up to 2 weeks prior to RAI.

    I had an initial consultation with an oncologist to give me an overview and to advise me that the nuclear physicist would co-ordinate the RAI appointment and telephone to advise me to stop taking T3 and to adopt a low iodine diet 2 weeks prior to RAI. A week prior to my RAI appointment I attended for a pre-op work up including thyroid blood tests to check TSH was high enough and was advised of what to bring in for estimated 4 days quarantine and to advise me of the contact restrictions for 21 days post quarantine.

    The reason for having RAI is to ablate any thyroid cells remaining in the body after surgery as they have the potential to be malignant. I'm not sure that delaying RAI until April is a safe option.

    If your SSP is ending you should be able to make a claim for ESA

  • Thanks for that. Did you have any bad side effects from being off the meds for those few weeks?

  • Vickybean,

    'Twas awful, exhausting fatigue and cold to the core, I was hardly out of bed.

  • Claim ESA - the first year is on your NI record. Have a browse throught the net for advice on claiming as it is not easy.

  • Yes, I'm definitely finding that. Haha. Thank you :)

  • I think your GP is wrong, you are entitled to SSP for up to 28 weeks, but it can be in more than one chunk. ( I had that with one employee) So you could go back to work if you feel OK.

    If you can't live on the SSP then you can claim ESA(which is the old income support in addition to jobseekers) and housing benefit. I am sure there are waiting periods but the sooner you claim, the sooner you'll get through any there are.

    Your best bet is to go to the CAB and ask them to help you fill out the forms. Its what they do, and they understand stuff like how to word the answers so that you actually get awarded what you need.

  • contact macmillan they have benefits experts cancer patients can access FOC

  • i also struggled financially so i know how it is unfortunately, i have no advise on the matter.

    I was given a Thyrogen injection two days before the RAI so i did not have to stop working and suffer severe hypothyroid symptoms. I also followed a very strict low iodine diet. The oncologist advised me that the RAI is effective within six months after surgery and that it is no point doing it beyond that time.

    some info on pre RAI and Thyrogen (which is very expensive hence the reason that it is not often prescribed although it could possibly relate to age but not sure), here:

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