Photo of Michael Finnegan, prostate cancer survivor

The Real Cost of Cancer: Michael's story

Michael was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015, aged 54. Michael had been made redundant from his job and then went on to set up his own business two years before his diagnosis.

He says during this two years he has never been as well off. A father of six, as soon as he got cancer he had to cease trading, and every penny he had saved went on costs related to cancer.

He spent his entire savings - about €10,000 - on bills and getting two of his children through college. His other daughter was doing the junior cert at the time. His loss of earnings during this time were well over €18,000.

During his treatment, Michael had a radical prostectomy in the Galway Clinic and this was done was through a deal with the HSE who send some of their cases to the private clinic. He had several complications and needed three different operations afterwards.

He had another operation just last May on his hernia, which was linked to his cancer treatment, and he had to take out a credit union loan of €4,000 to fund it. He is still trying to recoup these costs from the HSE.

He says he was lucky in that the mortgage was paid when he was diagnosed, but he said the biggest expense for him was travel and parking during his treatment. He spent €50 in diesel every time he had to travel to Galway for appointments or treatment and added that the parking charges simply broke him.

He remembers sitting in the hospital on one occasion when he was a whole day in UHG and watching the time on the clock tick by, wondering if he would have enough money to pay for his parking ticket when he was leaving the hospital. 

Michael was desperate to get back to work in order to earn money again and once did an interview with a catheter still in, wearing a pair of his Uncle’s borrowed pants that were big enough to conceal it. He says cancer does enough to you, without having to worry about money as well.

Are you affected by the financial cost of a cancer diagnosis?

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Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line

Our Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurses are available to help anyone affected by cancer on our Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700. The line is open Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm and you can also contact our nurses via email.