Mum Mandy Rainbow forced to rely on food banks after business folds following cancer diagnosis
- Credit: Archant
A mother diagnosed with cancer was forced to rely on food banks during her illness.
Mandy Rainbow, 51, from Great Yarmouth was diagnosed with Leukaemia last year.
She was not prepared for the financial burden that came with the diagnosis.
She said: 'Before it happened, things were going well. I was self-employed and running a garden maintenance company. It was hard and physical but I loved it.'
In the months leading up to her diagnosis however, Mandy noticed her energy levels falling greatly.
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'I was getting pains and was always tired. My friends joked that I was just getting old.
'The results came back clear but I knew my body was trying to tell me something but I never suspected I had cancer.
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'I eat healthily, exercise daily, I even avoid microwaves. I'm a proper hippy chick. I've just been unlucky.'
Last September, Mandy was told she had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and a 50/50 chance of survival and needed chemotherapy.
'It was a complete shock but I remember the calmness that came over me. I felt acceptance.
'From that moment, my whole routine revolved around surviving. I had to get to James Paget every day for chemotherapy but I was too shattered to drive.
'My dad was my life-line. He drove me to every appointment.'
She said she lost focus on her finances while she had cancer
'I could just about manage my outgoings when I was well but, when I got cancer, my business folded and I couldn't afford necessities.
'I relied on food banks too. I couldn't afford a proper weekly shop and my body was craving fresh fruit and vegetables. The food bank mainly had canned, dried food but I was desperate.'
Mandy has now completed chemotherapy and was told in January she's in remission.
'I look much better but the impact of cancer isn't over yet. It's left me with mobility issues and lingering fatigue. I can't walk my dogs far or do my gardening. At times, I just want to shut the door and not come out.
'But I'm going to be strong. Statistically lots of people won't make it. But I'm here and I'm thankful for all the people who've made that possible.'
Now Mandy hopes to use a plane ticket bought be her children for her 50th birthday to fly to Peru, 'My goal is to get well enough so I can use it.'
How to get support
Mandy found support through the local Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service.
She said: 'My nurse gave me information about Macmillan grants and told me to seek welfare benefits support.
'I needed help but was told I'd have to wait 12 weeks from my first treatment before I could claim financial aid. That was the worst time of my life. The DWP only count the claim from the moment the forms are received. It took me a month just to get the energy to fill one of the complicated forms. That was before I met Julie.'
Julie Evans is a Macmillan Welfare Benefits Adviser who visits James Paget on Mondays to offer practical support to people affected by cancer and struggling with their finances.
She said: 'Our team offers patients, carers and family members free advice about welfare benefits and charitable grants at hospitals across East Anglia, including the James Paget.
To find out more call the team on 0345 600 6257