Cancer sufferer’s mental health ‘fell to pieces’ due to heating bill fears

Sindy Hart, who was helped by the Macmillan scheme. Picture: Macmillan Cancer Support

Sindy Hart, who was helped by the Macmillan scheme. Picture: Macmillan Cancer Support - Credit: Archant

A single mum of five said the pressure of paying for heating while she underwent treatment for cancer made her mental health 'fall to pieces'.

Sindy Hart, 53, from Ashill near Watton, was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago and said she was terrified of feeling cold while being treated, having seen her mother die from the same disease after years of 'hugging the radiator'.

She said: 'My mum used to hug the radiator. My abiding memories of my mum is her hugging the radiator and that was the thing I feared most, being cold. I didn't have great circulation anyway.

'Being a single mum I'm the sort who is saying turn the lights off, turn the heating off, and when I got cancer and couldn't work I was like what do I do, how do I cope.'

She added: 'I have got a personality disorder. It is very difficult for me because I over think everything or I don't worry enough which is really hard because my youngest son had open heart surgery when he was two weeks old.

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'I can let things get too much and then I won't ask for help. It did really affect me because I didn't want to be another cancer patient. I can bury it.

'I can put on a front and put on the most happy face and do the thing everyone wants you to do but inside I was falling apart. My mental health totally fell to pieces.'

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Research from Macmillan Cancer Support shows that a third of cancer sufferers feel the cold even more after their diagnosis, meaning those like Miss Hart who may not have a significant income can struggle to be warm while being treated.

Working with npower through Macmillan, Miss Hart pays a flat fee of £19 a week for her gas and electricity, and if she uses more than that covers, npower will write off the difference and if she uses less, she is refunded the difference.

'I couldn't believe it,' she said. 'I thought about my poor mum and how she could have had that relief about not worrying about how cold she was.

'Having things like Macmillan and npower to take some of the load helped me realise that actually you have a diagnoses but it is not the end of your life.'

Macmillan and npower have worked together for 15 years on the scheme to help people with cancer and offer support by capping energy bills and writing off debt.

Surviving Winter

Help elderly and vulnerable people stay warm, fed and sheltered this winter by donating to the Surviving Winter campaign.

Run by the Norfolk Community Foundation and backed by the EDP and Norwich Evening News, the campaign is aiming to raise £150,000 to tackle fuel poverty and isolation for those who struggle the most between now and the spring.

The campaign is urging older people who do not need their winter fuel allowance to donate it to those who desperately do, as many are faced with choosing between paying the bills and putting food on the table.

Funds raised in the appeal will be distributed to a range of good causes across Norfolk, including the foundation trust's key partners Age UK Norfolk, Norwich Foodbank and St Martins Housing Trust.

To donate, Visit the Surviving Winter appeal donation page at or call Norfolk Community Foundation on 01603 623 958.

You can donate by cheque made payable to Norfolk Community Foundation and send it to Norfolk Community Foundation, St James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN.

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