BRAVE Elaine McLurg beat breast cancer – but claims the disease robbed her of her home, dignity and happiness.
The 47-year-old single mum was too ill to work after being told she had breast cancer and then suffered complications and heart problems as she faced gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.
But as she faced the horror battle head on, she was also fighting to keep a roof over her head and just two years after being given the devastating diagnosis she had her home, in Wooler Road, Hartlepool, repossessed.
Five years on from the diagnosis, and thankfully the cancer battle appears to be a thing of the past.
But the physical, mental and financial scars will stay with Elaine forever and she is still thousands of pounds in debt, unable to work due to illness and her confidence is shattered.
“Cancer has ruined my life,” said Elaine, a mum of 19-year-old Beth. “My life is not as it was, it’s totally different. My persona has changed, my confidence has gone.
“I’ve lost my home and I’ve lost my dignity. It’s a struggle to keep fighting.”
Elaine, who was just 42 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2008, had to reluctantly quit her job as a project co-ordinator for a property company.
But after battling through treatment including a lumpectomy, six gruelling sessions of chemotherapy and a further 25 cycles of radiotherapy, she was hit with another blow when she was told the breathlessness she was suffering was due to damage to the left ventricle of her heart, caused by chemotherapy.
She was also struck with the early onset of arthritis, which still causes her mobility problems today and has never allowed her to go back to work.
As she faced the pressures of a cancer fight and looking after her daughter, just 15 at the time, Elaine had no income and wasn’t aware of any benefits she could claim.
Her worst fears became a reality when she was taken to court over the mortgage payments she owed but had no way of paying and her home was repossessed.
Fortunately she managed to find a flat to rent at Hartlepool Marina, where she still lives now, but her former home was sold for far less than what she paid, leaving her in thousands of pounds worth of debt which she says will hang over her forever.
“I rely on benefits but the money coming in isn’t enough to live on,” added Elaine.
“If it had just been me by myself, I think I could have managed but I was bringing up a 15-year-old girl when I was diagnosed.
“That is what hurts the most, the affect it has had on her and all those times I had to say no to things because we didn’t have any money.
“I have had to go through everything I’ve been through yet I still find myself with thousands of pounds to pay.
“My life will never be the same again, I have awful days where I have to be cared for and where I feel depressed.
“Life was good before cancer. I had a job I enjoyed and a nice house, we could live comfortably.
“Then everything changed. Cancer has turned my whole life upside down.”