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‘Macmillan were there for me’

Dromore man Aaron Branker has spoken of how much charity Macmillan Cancer Support helped him after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Aaron Branker from Dromore
Aaron Branker from Dromore

He was speaking after the charity revealed it had given gave over £72,000 to around 208 people living with cancer in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area and over £27,000 to around 79 people living with cancer in the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area,

As many cancer patients on low-incomes struggle with the financial fallout of a diagnosis, compounded by the current cost of living crisis and Covid-19, Macmillan is urging anyone in need to seek their support.

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Macmillan Grants helped people in the local area pay for essentials such as heating bills and hospital transport costs, after they were diagnosed with cancer or underwent cancer treatment.

Aaron explained why the Macmillan grant provided such a lifeline after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the start of this year.

“When I was in hospital, my Macmillan nurse told me that I might be eligible for a Macmillan grant and passed on the phone number for the Macmillan Benefits Service in Northern Ireland,” he explained.

“The process was really simple. I used the grant to heat my house as my treatment left me feeling very cold and shivery at times. It meant that I could switch the heating on without worrying so much about it. If anyone reading this is in a similar position,

“I’d tell them to get in touch with the Benefits Service straight away. I know that people worry about asking for help, especially when it comes to money, and you always think there’s someone worse off than you, but Macmillan were there for me.”

Michaela McMahon, a local Macmillan Benefits Service Advisor said of the additional challenges facing people living with cancer in 2022:

“It’s been an incredibly tough few years for people living with cancer. Covid-19 continues to cause great challenges for the clinically vulnerable and now cancer patients are having to contend with a cost of living crisis that has seen prices for fuel and food rocket. The Macmillan Benefits Service in Northern Ireland is here to help. If you or someone you know is in need of our support, contact us today. Our service is available in every Health Trust, and our advisors are working to help people living with cancer access the support they need.”

Macmillan grants are a one-off, means tested payment of £350 to help with the extra costs that living with cancer can bring. Anyone over 18, who has been diagnosed with cancer or undergoing treatment can apply.