South Shields cancer victim’s daughter backs financial help plea

Julie Lowe with her dad Ian
Julie Lowe with her dad Ian

The daughter of a South Tyneside taxi driver who died from a brain tumour has welcomed a new report exposing the heavy financial cost the condition inflicts on families.

Julie Lowe, 31, spoke of her own experiences to coincide with the publication of Exposing the Financial Impact of Brain Tumours.

Julie Lowe

Julie Lowe

Released by the charity Brain Tumour Research, it reveals costs to households are over twice those inflicted in coping with any other cancer.

Ms Lowe had to take unpaid leave from her job when her father Ian Lowe was diagnosed with a large and aggressive CNS lymphoma.

He had experienced double vision and died despite treatment just two months later, on Valentine’s Day 2017.

His condition meant he had to give up work as soon as his symptoms became apparent, resulting in loss of income.

Ian Lowe

Ian Lowe

Ms Lowe, a dental nurse, also incurred costs of a regular 350-mile round trip from her home in Chester to support him through his illness.

She said: “Although there were just two months between dad’s diagnosis and his passing, his brain tumour led to many financial worries. He couldn’t work and I was constantly travelling to South Shields from my home in Chester. I took unpaid leave from my job too.

“I would have been there with him, regardless of the cost, but worrying about money just added to the distress.”

The report reveals the average loss for the 16,000 households affected each year is £14,783 - over double that for all cancers.

The report’s findings will now be fed into a formal inquiry into the hidden costs, being led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours.

The charity is calling on the government to speed up access to better treatments by stimulating further increases in national investment for research.

Sue Farrington Smith, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: “The financial penalties, the loss of independence and the consequential feelings of isolation compound the poor prognosis endured by brain tumour patients and this has got to stop.”

The report found families also face an annual rise in household bills of £1,000, and many also have to make expensive modifications to their homes.

Patients have to find around £1,582 in travel costs for hospital visits, and they suffer a crippling £391 increase in travel insurance, often making a much-needed holiday unaffordable.

Brain tumours kill more children than leukaemia, more men under 45 than prostate cancer, and more women under 35 than breast cancer.

They are indiscriminate and can affect anyone at any age, killing more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.

Just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to the condition, which hits around 16,000 people each year in the UK.

Less than 20 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50 per cent across all cancers.