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One in five cancer patients go to bed early just to stay warm

Today Macmillan and npower are committing to helping even more people diagnosed  with cancer focus on getting better, rather than worrying about their energy consumption

Around one in five people diagnosed with cancer in the last two years have stayed in bed or gone to bed early to keep warm as a way to keep their energy bills down,[i] according to new research, released today by Macmillan Cancer Support and npower.

This new research highlights the impact a cancer diagnosis can have, with over 1 in 3 people (37%) diagnosed with cancer in the last two years surveyed saying they feel the cold more and around 1 in 5 saying their energy bills have increased as a result of their diagnosis and treatment[ii].

Today npower is committing an extra £3m over the next three years to the npower Macmillan Fund to help people living with cancer keep warm without the worry. npower’s Macmillan Fund, formerly the Fuel Management Programme, is the only programme in the UK that offers bespoke support to people living with cancer by capping energy bills and writing off debt.

People undergoing cancer treatment often experience feeling colder due to side effects such as weight and hair loss, reduced energy levels and circulation problems. As such these survey findings may come as no surprise. Amongst those surveyed whose energy bills had increased, around 4 in 5 (81%) said one of the reasons is because they are putting their heating on moreii with around 3 in 4 (74%) stating they are at home more.

Around one in six (17%) people diagnosed with cancer in the last two years say they have turned the heating off, even when they needed it on, as a way to keep their energy bills down while around 1 in 6 (17%) also said that they had worn a coat indoors to keep warm as a way to keep their energy bills down.

With npower’s help, Macmillan gives out an average of 41 heating grants every day with an average value of £194. These grants enable people living with cancer to heat their homes, when they have no other means.

Katie, aged 47 from Birmingham was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2015. She explains how treatment made her feel the cold and how this lead to problems managing her fuel bills.

“When I was going through treatment for breast cancer, I felt freezing all of the time and just couldn’t warm up no matter what I did. I wanted to have the heating on all of the time but was struggling to cope financially. I’m a single mum of two and ended up just putting the heating on when the kids were getting ready for school in the morning. I’d then spend the day alone in a cold house and used to go to bed wearing a dressing gown and a woolly hat and still not feel warm.”

“Eventually I called the Macmillan Support Line and because I was an npower customer, I was put on npower’s Macmillan Fund. The advisor actually told me to go and put the heating on straight away! It was such a relief. They wrote off an outstanding payment and capped my bills to a manageable amount. I just thought it was too good to be true and really felt like I had won the lottery. Macmillan and npower lifted one of my worries and helped me to focus on getting better.”

Fran Woodard, Executive Director of Policy and Impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “People going through cancer treatment are often at home more and also need to turn their heating up to deal with side effects such as weight and hair loss and circulation problems, all of which can make people feel colder. In addition, chemotherapy itself can have a side effect of making people feel cold. This all means that their energy use goes up whilst their income may be reduced. npower’s Macmillan Fund provides vital support  to people undergoing cancer treatment, allowing them to focus on their health instead of their energy consumption.”

Clare McDougall, Head of Community at npower says: “Macmillan do such vital work and that’s why our employees have been supporting them for the last decade. Committing to another three years means Macmillan can count on our support to help keep the people warm without them having to worry.”

If you’re living with cancer and struggling to pay your energy bills, call Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 0000 Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm or visit for more information.