'Ease money stress faced by cancer patients'
Taxi-driver Martin Fox should be easing into retirement but instead he faces another decade working in order to pay off bills run up during his battle with prostate cancer.
Martin (66), who lives outside Kilkenny, is one of many thousands of people who are diagnosed with the disease annually who struggle with the hidden costs of cancer.
"As I was self-employed I had no income for around nine months," said Martin, who was diagnosed six years ago.
His wife Ann had to give up her job as a carer to look after him as he made trips to and from St James's Hospital in Dublin where he had surgery. "Ann had to hound the social welfare to get us some living expenses," said Martin.
"I also borrowed from family and from the credit union. It has left me in debt. I had to spend all of our retirement savings. I will be working for another ten years to pay it off."
He was speaking yesterday as the Irish Cancer Society launched its pre-Budget submission, which claimed cancer patients are being hammered financially.
It called for the abolition of the prescription charge. It also wants the maximum that patients pay under the Drugs Payment Scheme cut from €144 to €85 per month, and the abolition of the €75 overnight hospital charge.
A spokesman said: "We are calling on Government to respond to the desperate financial situation of cancer patients, which is being made worse by the indiscriminate statutory charges being levied on them. Since 2008, the Government has transferred the cost of being sick from the State to patients. People who are ill are less financially equipped to meet these payments."