DESPERATE Vincent Whitcombe has had two big battles on his hands – fighting an aggressive bout of cancer and fighting to survive with no money.
The 24-year-old is battling a rare form of cancer which has seen him paralysed in pain and sent for emergency chemotherapy at Worthing Hospital.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Vincent was made redundant from his job, told by his doctor not to work but was told he was not entitled to any state benefits.
Vincent and his girlfriend Kerrie Aylmore, of The Strand, Goring, were left frustrated and upset because they were unable to afford food and couldn’t even buy new clothes for Vincent’s deteriorating frame.
Feeling like the world was against them, they contacted the Herald – and this week, the Herald has helped Vincent get the benefits he is entitled to from the Department for Works and Pensions.
Vincent said: “We were really running short and struggling, to the point where Kerrie’s mum had to buy my clothes. I do not think this would have happened without the Herald – something the Herald has done has worked.”
Vincent was diagnosed earlier this month with high grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which spread from a tumour in his leg to his back.
Willing to take any job to pay the bills, Vincent searched for work and put in a claim for job seeker’s allowance.
But after four months of being told he had not contributed enough national insurance, and his girlfriend works too many hours, Vincent turned to the Herald.Less than 24 hours after the Herald got involved, on Wednesday, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “We apologise to Mr Whitcombe, and we are paying him all the benefits he is entitled to.”
The couple were struggling on Kerrie’s wage of £732 a month after tax for working 30 hours a week for the Co-op, in Angmering. After paying a mortgage, household bills, and trips to Sutton, in Greater London, for vital chemotherapy, the couple were left struggling to buy food.
Kerrie, 25, admitted she felt everyone was against them and was constantly in tears. Vincent could not understand why he was not entitled to any benefits and said he felt he would have been better looked after in a pig factory.
But with the news he will now get both job seeker’s allowance and employment support allowance, Vincent feels he has won one battle and can now concentrate on beating cancer.
He said: “I feel so much happier knowing I have now got that help to be able to buy clothes, because of my weight loss. I can also use that money to get to Sutton for my treatment, rather than worrying about the cost of petrol.
He added: “It has put more confidence in my battle with cancer because it has just built me right back up again.”
Vincent has been told his illness is treatable, but a haemotologist also said the deterioration in his condition was among the most rapid they had seen.
Kerrie, 25, said: “This wouldn’t have happened if the Herald didn’t get involved.”