Written by Craig Melcher, Content Strategy Manager at Macmillan

For the general public, the story of cancer has long been one of being cured or not cured. ‘Beating cancer’ or dying from it. That story is changing.

Thanks to improved ways of diagnosing and treating cancers, they’re becoming more survivable each year. But as anyone who’s had cancer (or anyone with someone close who’s had it) knows, it’s not that simple. The impact of cancer can hit you in ways you didn’t bargain for, even after you’ve finished treatment and been given the all-clear.

This is what we mean when we say ‘Living with and after cancer’ – all the various manners in which it can affect your life, often unexpectedly. 

1.      Cancer is expensive

Research in late 2013 showed that one in three people diagnosed experience a drop in income. One in four can’t afford to adequately heat their home. The average monthly financial burden is £570 – equal to the average monthly mortgage payment.*

Macmillan has a complete range of helpful information on the financial side of dealing with cancer, from benefits advice to day-to-day money management to understanding debt. Our online financial guidance tool can help you with financial decisions you may face.

Along with valuable information and tools, Macmillan also offers financial support such as Macmillan grants and a team of benefits advisers just a phone call away on the Macmillan Support Line – 0808 808 0000 (Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm). 

2.      Cancer affects your sex life

In a 2013 survey of women who’d survived breast cancer, one in two under the age of 55 said their sex life has suffered because of cancer.** Pain from treatment, loss of body confidence from surgery and scarring, and a drop in desire can leave an impact on sexuality during and after treatments for many cancers. Men aren’t immune either, with common issues such as erectile dysfunction and loss of sexual interest. 

Macmillan has a range of information on coping with sexual difficulties.

3.      It's an emotional rollercoaster

Shock, anxiety, sadness, relief, uncertainty and for some people, depression – these often, predictably, come into play for people affected by cancer after a diagnosis and during treatment. What's more surprising is that sometimes these emotions appear even after surviving cancer – sometimes months or years later. And the physical effects of emotions can run from fatigue and loss of appetite, to physical pain and sleep problems.

Macmillan has developed helpful information on all the various emotional issues you might face.

And this online community can be profoundly helpful in dealing with emotions. Chances are that for any mix of emotions you’re feeling, someone else has been there and has good words to share.

4.      Cancer can affect your work life

If you’re an employee or self-employed, living with cancer or caring for someone who is, cancer’s demands can cause work issues. For example, nearly one in four who return to work after cancer say they experience discrimination from employers or even colleagues.***

Many people don’t realise they have rights protected by legislation. Macmillan has produced a range of clear guides to your rights at work, including while caring for someone.  

Information when you need it, or even earlier

For all of these often sneaky effects of cancer, Macmillan has thorough, clear information on its website or as booklets you can order from be.Macmillan.

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Paying the Price report by Demos, Nov 2013. 
** Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov poll of women under age 55 living with breast cancer,
Oct 2013. 
 *** Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov online survey, 2012.