Families with a serious illness are feeling financial pressure more than ever

The Cancer Society and Sorted.org.nz have teamed up to create a new financial and legal resource for New Zealanders facing a serious or terminal diagnosis.

The recently launched life guide is the first step towards helping make the financial journey of patients easier to navigate.

According to Stats NZ, inflation has risen to 5.9 per cent and the cost of living is the highest since June 1990.

Lucy Elwood, CEO of the Cancer Society of New Zealand says: “This new resource is more relevant than ever given current levels of inflation. It’s common for cancer patients and their whānau to take extended periods of time off work while they are undergoing treatment and many find the financial aspects of their cancer journey exceedingly stressful, on top of an already tough time.”

“We have heard feedback that people struggled to find information about their changing financial situation and ended up spending lots of precious time researching the internet and visiting a dozen different websites. And often, they found the already complex information difficult to understand. Our new resource provides patients with clear, centralised information around finances.”

The guide was created in collaboration with Te Ara Ahunga Ora, the government agency behind Sorted.org.nz.

Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson says: “Being diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness can be overwhelming and make practical everyday things like managing your money seem huge.

“We were delighted to partner with the Cancer Society to develop a special resource for people to use, along with our other tools and and guides on Sorted, to help people dealing with this life challenge.”

Patient Advocate and Survivor David Downs who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January 2017 advised on the guide and has been very open about his own experiences including writing a book A Mild Touch of the Cancer.

“At one stage in my treatment I was facing financial ruin, with a significant bill to get life-changing treatment overseas. In the end the treatment cost over $350,000 so I well know the stress caused by financial hardship when you are seriously unwell," says David.

The Cancer Society see this resource as a foundation to build on.

“As things become tougher economically, we know the need for guidance around things like talking to your employer, dealing with bills, and what assistance you may be eligible for will only become more important. We are hoping to expand this guide further in the coming year including translations, video content and reach
those who are struggling to know where to turn.”

Guide: Managing your money after being diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness.