Lorraine Andrew was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2017, and later found out that it had spread to her lungs, liver and bones.

Although incurable it is treatable and Mrs Andrew, from Royston in Glasgow, follows a strict regime of chemotherapy tablets, bone infusions and hormone injections.

Until her diagnosis, the 55-year-old had been working as a night-shift call handler for NHS 24 for the previous eight years while she cared for an elderly friend who was ill.

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Although her husband has continued to work in the NHS, the couple's sudden drop of income was a blow.

She said: "We’d go on holiday and go out for a meal with friends sometimes. I worked constant nights and we were trying to save up so when my husband retired we’d have a nest egg.

“Everything changed when I was diagnosed and told the cancer was incurable. I couldn’t work so our income dropped significantly. I had a credit card that I was paying off that was fine when was working but was suddenly impossible to pay."

Mrs Andrew turned to the charity, Macmillan, for help claiming benefits such as a blue disability badge and the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

She said: "I’d always worked and it was embarrassing talking about money and debt. Macmillan negotiated with my creditors to cut down what I was paying out but I still owe that money and I feel so embarrassed about it.

“We find can’t do social things with friends and family because we can’t afford it. We just make excuses because we know they’d offer to pay for us and we can’t let them do that."

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She said her mother, who also had cancer, had been too ashamed to accept help.

Mrs Andrew said: “My mum had cancer before I did and she was offered help from Macmillan to pay for her heating and get new clothes because her weight had changed so much, but she turned it all down. She didn’t want to admit she needed help.

“There are lots of people like that and I understand because I was used to being independent. I don’t want to feel like a burden."

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She added: "Once you're diagnosed with something like cancer and you get your head round it, you then think how am I going to cope, how am I going to survive, pay the bills, pay the rent? So you're suddenly dealing with that as well as coping with the illness.

"I think that affects nearly everybody, unless you've got lots of money."