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Keeping healthy on a low budget?

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Keeping healthy on a low budget?

Anyone out there from a less affluent or ordinary background moving forward after BC dx? I am 58 and still in the rat race to survive as my husband lost his pension when his firm went bust and I can't retire til 67. I was dx 2014 g1 s1 wlx and rads x 15 now on Tamoxifen 10 years. I never changed any lifestyle factors as the oncologists never recommended it but I do walk regularly and watch the amount I eat. I do also like a drink at weekends to relax after a busy working week but I don't do any special diet or go to exercise classes or therapy sessions as i can't afford it on my low wage and I don't have the time. When I finished treatment I used to attend a support group which met in both Barry and Cardiff and at first I was encouraged by their forward looking outlook and their long survival since dx. However over time I discovered they all were from very affluent backgrounds (one is a former Guardian columnist and another was a reporter for Radio Wales!) others were also former high flyers in their careers. Due to their good income or pensions they are able to work part time or retire, go on lovely holidays and can indulge in great hobbies/pastimes. I now think that good health can only be achieved by high income, and for people like me this is not an option. I only know 2 in my workplace from same background who had cancer and both have since died, so I wonder if anyone who has survived BC out there working full time on modest income can give me any tips on what I can do to keep healthy and stop the slide into despair and helplessness? I live in a fairly deprived area so the GPs are inundated with obesity, diabetes and COPD so it is a long wait to get any support. Or do I (as my husband suggests) just have to spin the wheel of fortune and pray for the best?
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Hi Mishy. Thanks for your reply. I feel really humbled as here I am dwelling on my grade 1 stage 1 er+ bc which was fairly straightforward to treat (apart from the gruelling radiotherapy) when you face a much bigger challenge contending with a TNIBC diagnosis so I admire your courage. Right now I am laid up with sinus trouble due to the very cold weather and not made any better by the central heating broken down and waiting to be fixed! One thing which is a pain about being poor is being unable to afford private healthcare - the quality of the treatment is same as NHS but it is the worrying waiting times of the latter which causes most stress and which the private system can eliminate! I live in a town of approx 58000 but there are only 3 GP group practices to serve everyone, most are either on incapacity benefit, young pregnant women or pensioners. If i need to make an appointment now it will take me at least an hour to get through on phone to be told no slots available til whenever! Glad you are finding your walks therapeutic and sending you big hugs as always x
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You are definitely not alone Old spice there are alot of quite affluent people as well as us less well off ladies visit my local centre and like you sometimes i wish i could afford to go to all the lovely retreats and classes they attend but when you strip back all of that stuff its the thing that we all have in common that brings us together and it goes to show we all got bc in the first place so i don't beat myself up about the fact that I had a rubbish work life balance before and ate probably the wrong food as it was fast and never had a lot of time to cook i agree i love lidl they have some lovely stuff and not to hard on the purse strings!!
My technicolor glasses are my way of coping with the fact that i had tnbc and helps me deal with the what if it comes back fears that pop in my head when im trying to move forward!!!!! It does help honestly when I go for my walks I like to take everything in which at the moment is all the lovely Autumn colours which surprisingly are still out 🍁🍂
Take care xxx
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Hi Optimissy and Mishy! Just picked up your posts as I have been busy last few days. All our individual circumstances are different but I do feel better knowing I am not alone 😀 I find Lidl good for cheap fruit and veg but I do also eat meat as being coeliac and on the go I need something to fill as gluten free bread is rank! I am lucky that there are good places to walk near where I live but I can only do so on weekends as I work quite a long way away and the commute and traffic jams mean I get home too late to go anywhere. I get a bit envious of the retired or rich ladies at Cardiff Breast Friends I mentioned in my earlier post who walk during the week. I can't say my life is in technicolour but I do have reasonable health at the moment which I do try to take care of. Hugs to you both, Michele x
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Thanks optimissy im ok about it was anxious when i found out but nothing cabn be worse than bc so I'll move forward its just frustrating as i have 19 years of work years left in me and feel like I was unable to get my life back in track because of the setbacks not to mention fed up tgat i can't use my redundancy for nice things as using it for housing costs as it took me over threshold to receive any help for that!! Hey ho its life again though i think as alot have said walking is free can be enjoyable if you find somewhere with abit scenery in your area even in the big city i have found some nice places for waljs and my diet has improved my slow cooker has become my most useful tool in kitchen and tend to go for the wonky veg and fruit range in morrisons and theirs savers essentials are a god send!!!! I think a healthy mind is where we all need to start bc haa a horrible habit of messing with your mind all the what ifs after treatment we are never fully free of ut but i try to look at thinks in the most positive way i can live my life in technicolor waking up each day with the mantra that im alive for now and be grateful as for some of us that sadky is not always tge case xx
Michele x
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Thanks Mishy. Sorry to hear about your spine issues - that sounds really scary and challenging. Is your surgery imminent?

If you are below retirement age can you apply for PIP?

 

As I put in my post below to Oldspice, I was lucky that I was already retired so had my pension and didn't need to worry about sick pay like so many on here, but I would have used up all my occupational sick pay with the BC treatment and now my forthcoming hip replacement if I were still working. So I do feel on others' behalf that the higher retirement age is all wrong.

 

Maybe the proposed merger of BCC and Breast Cancer Now will be helpful as they seem to have quite a campaigning remit and may be able to raise government awareness of the cost of cancer. x

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Otimtimissyi am in same boat as you i need cervical spine fusion surgery for neuro problem finished bc treatments end Jan this year never got back i definitely think there needs to be more support for people on lower income during treatment i was living off my savings as only had ssp worked my self into ground before bc to earn a decent living as OH was out of work the pension age definitely needs looking at but again there is help in wage top up benefits not alot and lots of hoops to jump through but maybe an option to reduce hours at least my gp also have gym membership on prescription if needed im sure chatting with gp may help if the copd diabetes patients are entitled maybe as post bc we may be able to tap in to that???
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Hey Old spice im on a low income live in an inner city probably quite deprived area, me i haven't got back to work due to some other issues which happened after bc treatment ended living off my smalishl redundancy payment with some help i like you get as much exercise as i can re walking try to eat as healthy as i can but can't afford luxurious beaks etc don't dispair i know its horrible when you have a small income but i try to look at the positives its difficult working full time too, i know before nmy bc i was full time in a care home which was always stressful and hard i definitely will only look for something part time when im ok to go for something else there is help out there Old spice hope you are feeling a little better today xx
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Hi Charys! Thank you for this info. I think the NHS exemption in Wales is the free prescriptions which I do have and does really help with costs. You mentioned a link at the end of your reply but I could not see it. Can you possibly send this again please? Sending hugs, Michele.
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Community Champion

Hi again,

 

Ah you are in Wales, not sure what they do the prescription exemption for. I'll just do a little search. Well, the Wales Gov 'free prescriptions'....

 

https://gov.wales/topics/health/nhswales/prescriptions/?lang=en

 

...in the paragraph at the bottom, seems to link to this page...

 

 https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/exemption-certificates/medical-exemption-certificates

 

Which if you go to the 'who can apply' section, lists cancer, cancer treatments and ongoing meds needed for the effects of cancer. 

So, def worth asking your bcn.

______________________________________

 

I think you are right, you have highlighted an area where provision seems to be low for bc sufferers; working people on low incomes.

 

Here is a link to a page where you can make contact, not sure if it comes under 'general' or 'give feedback', but have a look and see which you think is the most appropriate ?

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I can relate to a lot of what youre saying.I'm on my own and work just 20 hours a week, two jobs, one of which is minimum wage and one a coyple of pounds only.I try to spend no more than £20 a week on food and try to get some fruit every week..grapes and apples usually.I'm just over qualifying for benefits..seems you either have to be completely skint or comfortably off in this country..walk a lot and work in a physical job.No free classes here and as you say, if you work would be hard to attend anyway.Matalans here do a post surgery bra for a tenner.I wear crop tops with padding in for comfort and theyre only about 2.99.Debenhams do a nice range of post surgery bras but they are £30! I know what you mean..you never stop paying.Free prescriptions make a huge difference to me..painkillers, bp tabs and anastrozole to name but a few.
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Thanks to you all for your replies. I do find them useful - any shared experience to me is valuable. I have not heard of the NHS exemptions for medication. Is it available in Wales? If so what does it cover? As a public sector worker under a decade-long pay freeze the real value of my salary has dropped to level of national living wage, so life is very much a struggle 😫 I too incurred more costs following my diagnosis - the heating bills went up, then it was REALLY hard to find a post surgery bra which did not cause discomfort and was affordable! I had a huge meltdown (as I have autism) when I went to the big stores which only had rows and rows of underwired ones (I was advised not to wear these after bc surgery) or were scratchy nylon lace. The only non wired ones were nursing bras or a couple of really old fashioned ones! I got so enraged that these shops were catering only for women who aspired to be Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely. Sadly I was just over the income threshold for help in buying post surgery bras and couldn't afford the posh ones online like Nicola Jane, so had to make do with cheap crop tops. Being gluten intolerant also puts a strain on my income as free-from food is so expensive but again I don't qualify for any assistance  as it too is means tested, and my income is just over the limit. Luckily I do love walking which is free and there are a few nice places I can get to locally. The only obstacle is the weather which is a crapshoot but I try to do as much as I can incl 30 mins each day at lunchtimes. There are as you say free groups in my area but TBH most take place in working hours. I work on a flexi contract and my employer will credit me time to attend any medical-related session but anything else I have to do in my own time inc travel (I don't drive and public transport here is crap) and as I am already 5 hours down it wouldn't be feasible. I do participate in a 1 hour workplace wellbeing dial in each month for employees who have survived or are living with cancer, but it is difficult to cover everyone's issues in the short timeframe. I do think however it is a good idea to run with this past BCC as a topic they could highlight. Not sure who I would contact so would be grateful for a starting point anyone? Sending big hugs xxx
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Yes. I was going to say similar. Oldspice, you sound like you are doing pretty well tbh. What health experts worry about us “in-activity”. Which is not the same as “you have to go to expensive gyms every day”. Walking is as good as anything. I make sure I do the stairs, and stretching at odd times. Hope you have somewhere nice to walk.
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Community Champion

Hiyer,

 

Great post Optimissy.

 

I don't have hugely much that is helpful to add except a few thoughts. Did you know/do you have an NHS exemtion for medication? Anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis and treatment can get an exemption card, ask your GP or BC Nurse for the form.

 

Also, I don't think you need lots of money to keep healthy and active. There will be subsidised/free exercise classes in your area, yet again ask at the GP surgery. Walking is the cheapest and best way to exercise, as its safe and doesn't stress the body hugely - add in some slower paces and faster paces. Pop into your local library, or community centre where you will find lots of information about groups/clubs/classes which may not cost anything to join.

 

Charys

Member

Hi Oldspice

sorry things seems so s**t for you. I certainly realised the financial cost of having cancer with my diagnosis - even stuff like buying vest tops/sports bras - and the travel costs to radiotherapy etc. etc. and heating the house immediately post-op during the day when i might otherwise have been out gardening or walking for longer. There are many costs that no-one even considers.

I don't think everyone on here is affluent by any means, but it may be the demographic that we are more likely to get cancer as we age, so many of us were already retired when diagnosed, as i was, so thankfully didn't have to face the financial worry of being unable to have a wage. I know that I would have found my previous 10 hour day and daily 2 hour round trip commute very difficult if i had had to work through radiotherapy and beyond as many folk on here have had to do for financial reasons. 

 

I think you are so right about the need for more support for low-income people who have cancer. I appreciate that you don't have time to start a campaign, but maybe your post will kick-start something for BCC to take on? 

 

I think the raising of the retirement age is a real killer and completely short-sighted from a practical point of view, as I was only yesterday wondering how on earth people will survive working till 68. (These thoughts were prompted by my reduced mobility and the probability of my having a hip replacement after Christmas, 2 years after my bc diagnosis, and I was thinking that actually it isn't fair on employers to have to cope with staff who may need to be off sick for more periods that when they were 10 years younger, as well as unfair for the staff member who is sick of course. Not all companies have a decent sick pay scheme so statutory sick pay is a joke and not something that would pay the rent or mortgage.)

Sorry can't offer any suggestions,  but wanted to not pass your post by. Maybe the workers on this forum will respond - they may have been working too, so not had time to respond to you. X

 

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OK I guess the radio silence on this is either there is no one in the same position as me or the amswer is 'Maggie's Centre' but sadly there isn't one of those in SouthWales where I live. One is planned to open when the new Velindre Cancer unit is built but that won't be for years yet. It seems there really is a dire lack of support for low income adults. Maybe I should take up the reins and campaign for it? Oops sorry I don't have the time as I am working/commuting 😡