Isle of Wight cancer patient wouldn't eat because of travel costs during treatment

Victoria Jones, 23, was diagnosed with lymphoma at 21 and has had to pay thousands of pounds to travel for treatment at Southampton General since. Credit: ITV News

A cancer patient from the Isle of Wight has delivered a petition to Downing Street calling for help with travel costs for people undergoing treatment.

Victoria Jones, 23, was diagnosed with lymphoma at 21 and has had to pay thousands of pounds to travel for treatment at Southampton General since.

She's now in remission and travels to the mainland for check up scans and blood tests.

But, over the course of her treatment, Victoria would have to get a ferry over from the Isle of Wight to Southampton, which could cost up to £200 return every time. A cost that wasn't subsidised and one that she had to pay for herself.

This was on top of fuel, parking and taxi fares, all while not being able to work and getting little income.

She was struggling so much with money that halfway through treatment she considered stopping it.

She said: “I had to give up my flat just because I couldn’t afford it. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to eat because I would have to budget for my ferries otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it. 

“When I was faced with giving up the flat when work had told me they were going to stop my money, I told them I was going to stop my treatment. I said I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t afford to do it, I wasn’t going to lose the roof over my head to do it. At that point, the idea of not having a roof over my head seemed a lot worse than being six foot under.” 

The petition was handed into Downing Street today. Credit: ITV News

Victoria’s Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker Kate, joined her at the petition hand-in alongside other young people with cancer. She was able to offer financial support to make sure Victoria got to treatment. 

Victoria added: “I messaged Kate and I said ‘I can’t do my treatment’ and she said she would talk to Red Funnel (the ferry company) and I was lucky they said they would give me free ferry travel so I could travel comfortably. 

“Kate worked on getting me some grants from some charities that really helped. If I was struggling to pay my bills then she would sort a grant out for me, they really did everything they could so I could finish my treatment.”

The petition from Young Lives vs Cancer has received more than 11,000 signatures and is calling for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund.

Research conducted by Young Lives vs Cancer found young people and families of children with cancer spend an average of £250 a month on travel costs including petrol, congestion charges, public transport and taxis, and travel an average of 350 miles a month to hospital.

Seven in 10 are struggling with travel costs and one in ten have missed or delayed treatment as they could not afford the travel.

  • Victoria Jones wants there to be funding for travel to help cancer patients

Victoria said there needs to be "a small pot of money for people under 25 to be able to fund their travel to specialist treatment centres that allows them not to have to take it out of their own pocket when they're on statutory sick pay or if their money gets cut".

Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive at Young Lives vs Cancer, added: “No young person with cancer or family should have to worry about how they can afford to get to hospital for treatment. We’ve heard from families unable to pay their bills and cutting down on food to pay for travel. It’s not right. They should be focused on what matters, getting through treatment. 

“It’s great to see how much support there has been behind our call for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund. It’s clear this is something young people with cancer and their families need and so now we hope to hear from the government about the next steps to make this happen.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We know people are struggling which is why we’re bearing down on inflation and providing record financial support worth an average £3,300 per household.

“We are capping bus and rail fares and people on low incomes can apply for help with their health costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme."

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