Cancer victims ‘struggle for clothes’ says charity

'He just wasted away': James Akers with his wife Mandy in the 1960s.
'He just wasted away': James Akers with his wife Mandy in the 1960s.

CANCER patients in South Yorkshire who lose weight due to their illness are relying on handouts because they cannot afford the new clothes they need, according to charity bosses.

Macmillan Cancer Support gave out grants to 401 people in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster in the last 12 months to pay for new clothes.

The charity gave one-off payments totalling £54,705 for clothes - 47 per cent of the grants they gave out, and more than the cost of fuel bills or travelling to hospital.

Cancer victim James ‘Jock’ Akers, of Wulfric Close, Manor, Sheffield, relied on Macmillan when he lost six stone as he battled cancer of the oesophagus.

The 70-year-old former bus driver dropped from 10 stone to a mere four stone in just nine months before he passed away in November 2010.

His widow Mandy, 67, said: “He just wasted away - his weight went down and down.”

Life got worse for Mandy and Jock - who were married for 48 years - when their cooker and washer broke down, and the last thing they could think about was new clothes for Jock, who was swamped by his old shirts and trousers.

Mandy, mother to six and grandmother to 28, said: “We had no money.

“Jock was a very proud man, he had worked all his life and didn’t want to ask for help, but the grants we received meant life was made as comfortable as possible for him.”

Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The sheer number of cancer patients turning to Macmillan for help towards clothing highlights just how much they struggle financially.

“Clothing is one of a number of hidden costs cancer patients are burdened with at a time when, on average, their income halves and their outgoings rocket.

“Patients already have to deal with the changes to their bodies - they shouldn’t have the added stress of not being able to afford new clothes.”