Loneliness is damaging the lives of around 9,000 people living with cancer in Lancashire, shock figures revealed today.
Cancer sufferers are being hit by loneliness as a result of the disease, leaving many housebound and unable to feed themselves properly according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
And the charity has warned of a looming loneliness epidemic with the number of people diagnosed with cancer set to double by 2030.
Karen Fitzgerald, 46, from Chorley, has admitted to being struck by loneliness and isolation after she was diagnosed with incurable cancer 11 months ago and just last month her sister-in-law died from the same disease.
Doctors found secondary tumours in Karen’s neck, stomach and left side of her body but could not identify the primary cancer.
Karen found it hard to accept the primary cancer could not be found and felt lonely and isolated.
Karen said: “I felt so alone. Due to the nature of the cancer, I was passed from specialist to specialist as they each tried to diagnose me.
“As soon as I built up a rapport with one person, I’d be moved on to the next.
“It was very hard and I felt I had no one to talk to.
“There were times when I didn’t want to leave the house. After my first chemotherapy session, I couldn’t stop crying which was unlike me as I’m normally such a positive person.”
After a variety of tests, Karen started chemotherapy and finally found support in the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service at the Royal Preston Hospital.
Macmillan Cancer information and support manager Rachel Glascott helped her come to terms with her condition and confront the practical and emotional challenges.
Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Loneliness is blighting the lives of hundreds of thousands of cancer patients in the UK.
“It’s hard enough for people being hit with the devastating news they have cancer, without having to suffer the additional effects that being lonely brings.”
Call Macmillan on 0808 808 00 00.