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Cancer sufferer left to live without electricity or gas
A CHRISTCHURCH woman suffering the effects of intensive cancer treatment was forced to live without electricity and gas after her benefits were stopped.
Susan Sheppard, 46, was diagnosed with cancer last year and has since undergone rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well as two major surgeries, all of which have left her immune system weak and unable to fight infection.
As well as the treatments, Susan is dealing with the after effects of bowel surgery and is using crutches while doctors try to diagnose ongoing problems with her hip.
The ESA – Employment Support Agency – have now stopped her benefit money after she missed an appointment at the job centre.
She said: “I wasn’t given any reason as to why it was stopped. I was due to go for two appointments but I was in and out of hospital so I missed the second rearranged appointment.
“Soon after, the money stopped.
“I explained on the phone afterwards and was told by a lady not to worry because she understood the circumstances.
“I’m appealing it obviously but at the moment, after I’ve paid for car insurance, which I have to have, and for my phone, which is obviously essential, I’m left with £23 for me and my two children.
“For two weeks we were without food and electricity and gas. We’ve got some today thanks to the food bank at Purewell .
“We’re really grateful for the help but it’s embarrassing and we don’t want to be charity cases.
“I’m on morphine and other pain killers and I can barely move.
“I’m not a scrounger and if they were to see me, they would realise that.”
Susan said she sent doctor’s notes to the Job Centre to outline her situation but had not realised they would need a covering letter as well.
A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said they had not any received information from the doctor or hospital to confirm the time spent in hospital.
“No one would be expected to attend a Work Capability Assessment if they are undergoing treatment in hospital”, the spokesperson said.
“They or a family member just needs to tell us and send a note from their GP or hospital to confirm. Unfortunately, if this is not done, it may affect someone’s benefits.
“Anyone can ask the department to reconsider a benefit decision, providing additional information at any stage, and may be able to qualify for crisis loans to cover essential costs.”
They also said benefits can be reinstated and repaid once evidence is provided.