The family of an 11-year-old cancer patient have been forced to spend £5,000 at car parks to visit their son in hospital.
Darcy Sturman has been battling leukaemia and has spent much of the last 30 months at a hospital in Sheffield.
Since Darcy was diagnosed in September 2017, his parents Jay and Jo Sturman have regularly made the 166-mile round trip from their home in Louth, Lincolnshire, to be by his bedside.
They estimate they have racked up 20,000 miles and spent £7,000 on fuel during their average twice- weekly trips.
The Sturmans also say they have spent a total of £5,000 on parking at a £16-a-day private car park because the 26 spaces at Sheffield Hospital are “always taken”.
“The cost is absolutely relentless and to be honest it’s heartbreaking,” Mr Sturman said.
“We are obviously going to do whatever it costs to be here with him but financially it is crippling.
“These sorts of things are the hidden costs of cancer. For us it is like having to pay for a second mortgage.
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“I have had to take out credit cards just to pay for petrol and parking and it doesn’t seem fair.
“We are in loads of debt because of the travel costs. All we are doing is visiting our son in hospital and it’s financially crippling us.”
To date, Darcy has spent around 20 months in hospital and when not admitted to a ward has been driven to-and-from Sheffield on a weekly basis.
To help with the 166-mile return trips from Louth to Sheffield multiple times a week, Mr Sturman said he had to sell his 2001 Volkswagen Beetle car and buy a new more reliable car.
He said he bought the replacement - a reliable £40,000 Mercedes A220 A Class - on finance for £400 a month.
Mr Sturman said: “The entire hospital only has 26 spaces which is a bit of a joke. We have no chance of being able to park there.
“The parking issue is just an absolute nightmare. From next month the government is supposed to be providing free parking at all hospitals.
“But I just can’t see it. I’ve asked the hospital about it myself and they have told me, ‘We can’t make it work.’
“From what I can see nothing is going to change here and we will be left to pay all the time.”
Mr Sturman has set up a GoFundMe page to help with tackling the costs and is appealing for donations.