Money and work
Tips and tools to help you make choices about money, benefits and work
What you need to know
Whether you’re living with or after leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or any other blood cancer:
- Financial support is available – Other people with blood cancer have found getting benefits helpful. There’s also lots of other support available.
- You’ve got rights at work – If you want to carry on working, the law is on your side. In England, Scotland and Wales you’re protected from discrimination by The Equality Act, and in Northern Ireland, the Disability Discrimination Act.
- Whatever stage you’re at, you’re protected – If you’re in remission, on watch and wait, if you have a chronic blood cancer, or an MPN or MDS, you are still entitled to protection and support.
Louise S's story
How I found the financial support I needed
Help with money
How to get help with benefits
Make sure you get the financial support you’re entitled to – it might be more money than you realise. People with blood cancer who get benefits say that they can make a big difference and help to reduce money worries. There are people who can help you apply:
- Ask your GP, clinical nurse specialist or doctor – They can be a great source of local information and might be able to help with applications.
- Call a helpline – You can contact the Citizens Advice on 0344 411 1444. Macmillan Cancer Support also have specialist benefits advisers on 0808 808 00 00.
- Talk to someone face to face – Visit your local Citizen’s Advice Centre. Maybe there’s a Macmillan Cancer Support Centre, Maggie’s Centre or social worker in your hospital who can offer free advice?
- Family and friends – If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no shame in asking for help. Could a friend or family member help you find out about benefits?
My mum found out about Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for me, and I received them even though I was working. That was a big help.
- Bianca, 35
If you’re self-employed
You may still be entitled to benefits if you’re self-employed. Speak to someone for personalised information – get advice using the ways we’ve suggested above.
Ways you could save money
- Free parking at hospitals – Many hospitals in England offer free parking to people with cancer, but it might not be well advertised. Ask at the hospital’s main reception.
- Free prescriptions – In England, prescriptions are free if your health problem is related to cancer. Ask your GP for an exemption certificate form.
- Help with health costs – You may be able to get help with health costs. It takes just three minutes to check online.
- Refunds for health-related travel – If you have a low income, or receive certain benefits, you may be able to get refunds for your travel costs to hospital. Ask at the hospital’s main reception.
- Help with bills – Talk to your suppliers about energy bills, council tax and mortgage payments. There is usually support available for people with cancer. Get advice from Citizens Advice (0344 411 1444).
- Check your other entitlements – Could you draw on your income protection insurance, critical illness cover, or life insurance? Many charities offer grants that you don’t have to pay back – check on Turn2Us.
Coping with work
Boosting your confidence at work
It may feel like a struggle to keep working while you’re living with cancer. Or you might have had time off and be finding the thought of going back daunting. But there are things you can do to boost your self-esteem:
- Know your rights – You’re protected by the law against discrimination and your employer should make reasonable adjustments to support you at work.
- Access the help that’s available – Ask your work about training, special equipment or back-to-work support. Look into the access to work scheme, employability support, the National Career’s Service or ask about support from your trade union if you have one.
- Look after yourself – Take care of your mind and emotions and read our tips on managing fatigue.
I have problems moving my fingers, so I have a voice-recognition system on the computer. Being able to do design work again has been great for my morale.
- Mike, 75
Your rights at work
If your employer knows about your diagnosis, then legally they have to consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support you at work. Talk to them as soon as you can about what might help you.
Ask to speak to occupational health specialist if your work or hospital has one. You could also give your employer or colleagues our fact sheet - 'If your employee or colleague has blood cancer' - see below.
You can ask for reasonable adjustments at any time, not just when you’re returning to work. It’s helpful to have regular catch-ups with your manager to check how things are going and see if you need any other changes.
Examples of reasonable adjustments include:
- a phased return to work (building up your hours gradually after being off sick)
- taking time off for medical appointments or counselling
- taking more breaks or having a place to rest
- limiting work that’s more physically or mentally demanding
- having a parking space provided
- equipment or changes to your work environment that might help you do your job
- changing start or finish times to avoid the rush hour
- changing your working hours or where you work (for example, working from home some of the time).
Finding helpful adjustments
Step 1: Write down the specific things that are difficult for you at work (e.g. the hours, the environment, certain tasks).
Step 2: Think of a way to alter each thing (e.g. change hours, move desks, avoid heavy lifting, changing lighting or temperature).
Step 3: Talk to your employer as soon as you can about your ideas for reasonable adjustments. Show them your list or email them using our template above.
Asking for help to work through chemo
Rethinking whether to work?
Some people decide to stop working after a cancer diagnosis. This is a big decision, and it’s important to get the right advice. Get the right information from the Money Advice Service, find a retirement advisor in your area, or call Macmillan Cancer Support (0808 808 00 00) to speak to a financial guide.
Whatever your situation, other people living with blood cancer say that changing their approach to work has made a positive difference. For example, some people try to get more balance. This could mean spending more time on your interests and with your family, or trying a new hobby, volunteering or studying.
After I stopped working, I wanted more to focus on, and found an introduction to counselling course. My family said I’d be great at it because they always talk to me about their problems!
- Joanna, 50
Tools and support
Living with blood cancer is difficult enough, without the added strain of money and work worries. There are ways you can get emotional support – many workplaces have an employee assistance programme. Read more about looking after your mind and emotions.
The Money Advice Service offers free webchat, Whatsapp and phone advice on all money matters.
If you need more detailed advice about your employment rights or you’re worried about discrimination at work, try the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Disability Rights UK, or Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
Janssen-Cilag Ltd has supported Blood Cancer UK with funding for the production of this web page and others within the ‘Living well’ section. It had no influence over the content.
Tell us your top tips for living well
Your experience can help others with blood cancer