Nurse faced financial struggles after eight-year-old's cancer diagnosis

Helga Foyster (left) from Norwich with her daughter, Lucy, 8, who was diagnosed with bone cancer in January last year.

Helga Foyster (left) from Norwich with her daughter, Lucy, 8, who was diagnosed with bone cancer in January last year. - Credit: Helga Foyster

A mother who was forced to leave her job to care for her eight-year-old after she was diagnosed with cancer said it was the “biggest challenge of her life”. 

Registered nurse Helga Foyster, from Norwich, was put in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support in January last year when her daughter Lucy was diagnosed with bone cancer.

The devastating news came five years after Mrs Foyster received her own treatment for breast cancer.    

To care for her daughter the 53-year-old was forced to stop work which left her worrying about how she would support her family. 

She said: “I’ve worked as a nurse for 35 years but had to stop work immediately to care for my daughter when she fell ill, which has been the biggest challenge of my life.  

“Fortunately, my employer granted me carers leave and sick leave while Lucy was having treatment, but the pay I was receiving wasn’t enough to cover the costs of travel and caring for a child who now had difficulty moving about and caring for herself in the way she had.” 

Mrs Foyster was already aware of Macmillan’s support services after her own battle with cancer and turned to the charity for help. 

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She added: “I sat by my daughter’s bedside in the hospital talking to my Macmillan adviser about applying for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which was a very challenging and lengthy process. 

“I honestly don’t think I would have been able to complete my DLA application on time without Macmillan’s support. 

“It was a weight off my mind in what was an extremely difficult year.” 

Lucy Foyster, 8, from Norwich, was diagnosed with bone cancer in January last year.

Lucy Foyster, 8, was diagnosed with bone cancer in January last year. Pictured is Lucy (middle) with her mum and dad when she finished her treatment. - Credit: Lucy Foyster

New figures from the Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advice Service show it helped 1,969 people to claim an average of £3,519 each between October 2020 and September 2021 

Cathy Cunningham-Elliott, manager of the Macmillan Benefits Advice Service for Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire said: “Cancer comes with lots of unexpected costs and often a loss in income. Particularly for those who have never tried to navigate the benefits system before.

"It can feel like a maze, especially when someone is going through gruelling treatment or struggling to deal with the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis. "

To find out more about the financial support provided by the Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire Macmillan , call 0345 600 6257 (Monday-Friday, 9.30am – 4.30pm) or email macmillanbenefits@suffolk.gov.uk.

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