Cost of living: Mum's anger as family struggles to pay heating bills while son has chemo

  • Video report by ITV Wales National Correspondent Rob Osborne

A mother has described the "crushing" pressure of increasing living costs after her son was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Noah Herniman from Chepstow has an inoperable brain tumour and is currently going through chemotherapy.

Noah's parents are supporting him at home but his mother Shelly Herniman said she's almost in a position where she won't be able to put the heating on. 

There are warnings that the rising cost of living is hitting cancer patients even harder.

Overall, consumer prices are 5.4% higher than 12 months ago, gas prices have increased by 28% and electricity prices by 19%.

Both Shelly and her husband are still working but Shelly had to take a leave of absence to care for Noah.

She now has to decide whether to reduce her hours to look after Noah. 

Now they are home all day the cost of fuel, energy and food bills have massively increased.

The heating and the electric kettle is on constantly to make hot water bottles for Noah as he is always cold.

The family has considered they may need to access financial support in the future from Latch, a Children's Cancer Charity Credit: Family Photo

At one point Noah had a feeding pump that was used for 12 hours a day for two months which added to the amount of electricity the family used.

Shelly said: "Yesterday I went into mum mode and said right that's it turn everything off.

"I can't really turn it off because poor old Noah, he feels the cold so much more than everyone else. He's lost an incredible amount of weight, he needs to put a lot of weight on.

"So Noah's calorie intake has got to be a minimum of 2900 minimum calories a day but that has to come at a price, everything you're buying at the shop.

'I've seen my food bill double'

"And even this month, I never divulge information usually, but this month I said to my husband, thank god we get paid soon.

"I never realised how long January was."

Richard Pugh from Macmillan Cymru Wales says: "Our own research has discovered that 87% of cancer patients [In Wales] receive some sort of financial difficulties because of having a cancer diagnosis.

"That's a huge amount, that's the majority of cancer patients."

Shelly said she earns a 'decent amount' but that it's all relative to mortgage payments so they are really struggling.

She also fears she won't be able to retire at the age she wanted to.

Shelly described dealing with the emotional and financial hardship as "soul-destroying and crushing."

She said she and her husband are "angry at the world" as "all of the issues pile on."

Noah said he is coping but finding out he had cancer was "a bit of a shock."

He said, "I've learnt that no matter what happens, life's always got something in store for you, good or bad."

Noah met with Jodie Whittaker, the current Doctor Who, as he is a big fan of the programme. Credit: Family Photo

The family worry that they may have to look for private treatment abroad if chemotherapy doesn't rid Noah of cancer.

However, they have no savings to afford this alternative option.

Noah has told his mum, "I don't want you to sell the family home" if they do decide to go abroad for expensive treatment.

Despite his diagnosis and the pressure Noah's family have experienced, the teenager has tried to remain positive.

"I will be honest I have been angry at the universe for giving me this but there's not really any point in giving up is there?" He said.

"Not when you can fight it and you know you've got a future"

"And you just need to go on to prove to other people who are going through a similar thing.

"It's not the end."

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