About this Blog

This blog started as an online diary and place for me to rant about annoyances in my family.

However since July it has become a place for me to catalogue and express my views and opinions on the treatment I have recieved following the diagnosis of a potentially cancerous tumor in my bowel.

On 3rd August 2011 I was told that it was cancerous. In April 2012 I was given the all clear.

October 15th 2013 I was diagnosed with peritoneal disease and liver metastases. The cancer was back and this time it is inoperable.

It is a little bit out of date as the NHS doesn't tend to have a WiFi connection in hospital and I can only post when I get home and posts take a while to write.

It is NOT about individuals or the nursing profession. It is about some of the inadequacies in the system and the way the NHS is failing some people.

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

51 weeks on & some reflections

51 weeks ago, I knew I had cancer, that the tumour had been removed and was about to start the gruelling chemotherapy regime that consumed my life for 6 months.

But looking back and reflecting on what I went through last year has really made me reassess not only my priorities but also take a look at something else you never really think about, and that is financial provision.

When I heard that the Mumsnet Bloggers network were looking for people to blog about income protection and what's available to employees I was interested.

When I was admitted to hospital I was lucky, I wasn't working so I didn't have to ring my boss at 3am in the morning saying I won't be into work tomorrow. I didn't have to have those difficult conversations about returning to work during chemotherapy and following surgery. I, also, did not have to worry about not being paid for 3 days because generally you don't get sick pay for the first three days of any period of 'sickness'.

I have been through the 'sickness system' before. During the summer of 2007 I had a nervous breakdown and was signed off work sick for 6 months. I remember the worry then about affording things & the stress about speaking to mangers and HR and arranging doctors appointments and finally return to work interviews and phased returns and all the faff it entailed.

Sorry, I digress slightly.  I started thinking about how we would cope if it hadn't been me who had been an emergency admission to hospital but Tony. 

I don't work, so there would be no option to increase my hours to cover the loss of income we would have suffered. If Tony didn't get paid for his first three days of sickness then we would probably have lost somewhere around £450, maybe even more. 

Then there is the length of time that you receive sick pay for - most large companies only pay full pay for 6 months. Lets look at my timeline.

Initial hospital admission - 8th July 2011
Discharged from hospital - 13th July 2011
Readmitted to hospital - 18th July 2011
Abdominal Surgery - 21st July 2011
Discharged from Hospital  26th July 2011
6 weeks recovery from surgery - 1st September 2011
Chemotherapy Start date - 5th October 2011
Chemotherapy End date - 14th March 2012

That's a total of 8 months potentially only 6 months of those at full pay. So what can you do?

I asked Tony to talk to Sainsburys about what they would offer.

This is what we established he would definitely be entitled too. 

Sainsburys offer 6 months full pay, with the possibility of early retirement if there is no possibility of improvement in your long term health prospects. There is no income protection policies available & it is unclear how flexible the 6 months is. For example, in my specific case would I have been able to take one week sick for the first week after chemo and then go back to work for 2 weeks without it affecting my pay. 

I would like to see more employers considering the flexibility of the sickness benefits they offer to cancer patients & survivors. Cancer is not a finite illness. Once you have had cancer you live with the ever present fear that the cancer will return & also the side effects of chemotherapy can be cumulative so although they may be relatively mild after the first treatment, following treatments 3,4 or 5 you may be considerably worse.

So what are we doing to protect ourselves in case the worst happens. Actually, we can't afford to do anything. When we took our mortgage out and we were both working full time we were paying about £85 a month for decreasing term assurance, Critical Illness cover and Income Protection. When Isaac was born, we should have been increasing this protection and adding him in. Instead we looked at our financial position and decided we couldn't afford it so we dropped the Critical Illness Cover & Income Protection and kept our decreasing term assurance, which reduced our bill to just shy of £20 a month. 

Do I regret this? In hindsight yes, but you never think it is going to happen to you. I am proof. It happened to me and it could happen to you. Are you covered if the worst happens?

Rest assured that when I manage to secure employment, one of the first things I will be looking at is if I can get cover and what kind of cover we can get to protect our family.


I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have been asked by Mumsnet and Unum to blog about income protection. I have received a voucher for this blog post but I have editorial content and retain full editorial integrity