'You Can't Imagine How Much a Financial Strain You Are under When You're Ill with Cancer' Welsh Cancer Charity Tenovus Is Increasing the Amount of Support It Gives to Patients. Health Editor Madeleine Brindley Reports on the Newest Member of the Tenovus Team

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Byline: Madeleine Brindley

A CANCER diagnosis will not just a affect a person's health, but for many people it will also affect their wealth.

The financial implications of the disease are often secondary to the immediate worries about a person's health, future and family life.

But research by Macmillan Cancer Support has suggested that as many as one in 17 people lose their home after being diagnosed with cancer and one in six have difficulties in keeping up with their mortgage or rental payments.

For those with cancer who are self-employed, the figure is higher still with one in nine losing their home.

The latest member of the Tenovus team in Wales is Ruth Rees, the charity's welfare rights adviser.

She will be giving cancer patients in Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan much-needed advice on money matters.

As welfare rights officer for Tenovus she will be part of a team of three who aim to relieve the financial burden on cancer patients.

They will visit cancer patients at home, providing advice and information about how people can access the benefits available to them.

By identifying potential financial assistance available, and helping patients fill out the sometimes complicated forms, the welfare officers act in the patients' best interest to alleviate the pressure of money worries enabling them to focus solely on their treatment.

Ruth will also provide telephone advice to patients and work as part of the team on the new mobile cancer support bus, which is due to be launched next month.

The bus, which will also allow patients to have chemotherapy in their own community rather than in hospital, will travel across the South Wales Valleys, where levels of the disease are among the highest in the country.

Ruth, who previously worked as a welfare rights adviser for Age Concern in Rhondda Cynon Taf, took up her new job in December.

She said: "I am very excited about getting under way in my new role as Tenovus, not only because it is a great role in a great charity but it is also an exciting time for the organisation as it rolls out a new strategy, taking cancer support services to the heart of communities across Wales.

"The role of welfare rights adviser is an important one in charities today.

"It is hard enough anyway for people to cope with the diagnosis of cancer, as well as the physical sickness and frustration to everyday life.

"Especially in today's climate many people are suffering financial problems and we are able to help people receive their entitlements."

Tenovus chief executive Claudia McVie said: "Ruth joins us at a time when we are evolving into even more community-based support with the launch of our mobile unit and we look forward to seeing her grow in her role as this gets under way."

Robert Jones, 29, from Merthyr Tydfil is currently undergoing treatment for bowel cancer.

He has lost seven stone in the past year as a result of his treatment and was able to access, through Tenovus' welfare adviser, grants for clothing and a heating allowance - as the family's heating bills have doubled to compensate for Robert feeling the cold.

Robert, who worked full-time as a betting shop manager before his illness, said: "I literally had books of forms to fill in for any funding and I had never accessed benefits before so it was all brand new. …