Bronwyn Reidy, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2019, has revealed the financial stress she and her family were under while undergoing months of intensive care before the pandemic.
The mother-of-one, 28, had to travel over three months from her home in the city of Waterford to St Luke’s Hospital in Dublin to undergo a grueling combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and brachytherapy, all of which took a physical toll.
But the ordeal was compounded by rising bills she was facing, petrol prices, overnight stays in Dublin for her parents and hidden costs of groceries, special soaps and creams to cope with the effects of treatments
Their skin. “I do not think so
There is enough awareness of the hidden costs of cancer,” Ms Reidy said.
At one point, she was concerned that, in the worst-case scenario, there might not be enough money for her funeral, and she looked into her credit union’s funeral insurance, which would pay a lump sum to cover the costs.
Luckily, the treatment was successful, but she believes the financial expenses have exceeded €5,000 to cover her parents’ travel and accommodation in Dublin, as well as other unseen costs.
“Parking at St. Luke’s Hospital is free. But my parents used to buy me food. Also, I needed creams and washes for my skin due to the effects of radiation therapy,” Ms. Reidy said.
“The chemotherapy was affecting my teeth, so I had to have a specific mouthwash. We bought multivitamins because my body was being blown up and I was trying to take care of myself. I think the Irish Cancer Society gives a lot of support to patients but there is nothing from the government. On my 26th birthday I raised €3,500 for the charity while undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I use all the free services on site.”
Ms Reidy works at the local employment agency and believes there should be a temporary increase in welfare for people who are ill and unemployed.
The treatment caused her to go into early menopause and now she has to face the costs of hormone replacement therapy. “A lot was taken from me, but it kept me alive,” she said.
Ms Reidy credits the late cervical cancer activist Laura Brennan, who died from the disease, with prompting her to take a smear test when she was 25, the age at which CervicalCheck is beginning to offer screening.
“I was watching a documentary about Laura. I had no symptoms and was advised to register online,” Ms Reidy said.
After an initial swab and a referral, the cancer was discovered.
Ms Reidy is urging other young women to take advantage of the free tests as soon as they are eligible and if they have symptoms not to ignore them. She was speaking as a report by the Irish Cancer Society showed that the cost of living crisis is hitting cancer patients who spend on average €275 a month on basics like heating and €200 on medical expenses.
Lucan’s Geraldine Lavin, 50, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, said she has been forced to rely on savings to meet her family’s daily expenses while she is unemployed, with additional expenses such as increasing hospital parking spaces the pressure.
“I’m self-employed. I paid for parking for five hours at a time, which doesn’t sound like much, but it is when other household expenses pile up and you’re not working,” Ms Lavin said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/parking-overnight-stays-specialist-creams-there-is-not-enough-awareness-about-the-hidden-costs-of-cancer-42220580.html “Parking, staying overnight, special creams – the awareness of the hidden costs of cancer is too low”